By Prudence Wade, PA
The cost of living crisis means many of us are feeling the pinch.
While a few money-saving hacks won’t take all of the heat off rocketing grocery bills and petrol prices, every little helps – and making your food shop last a bit longer could go a long way.
These hacks will mean you don’t have to throw out food that’s gone off, and you don’t have to go to the shops so often to top up your fridge.
1. Store your herbs like a bunch of flowers
There’s nothing worse than buying a beautiful bunch of herbs, only to have them wilt within days – before you even have a chance to cook with them.
But there’s an easy hack to fix this: simply fill a glass with a few centimetres of water, and pop the herbs in like a bunch of flowers. To really extend the lifespan, put a sandwich bag over the top – you’ll be surprised at how much longer they’ll last.
If your herbs are looking a bit limp and you don’t think you’ll get to them in time, you can freeze them.
Chop the herbs up, put them in the bottom of an ice cube tray, and fill to the top with water. When you want to use them, pop them out and let them defrost.
2. Freeze any fruit on the turn
The same goes for any greens starting to look a bit sad – they’ll be perfect in a smoothie at a later date.
3. Pop old bread in the oven
You don’t have to chuck out bread when it goes stale – instead, quickly run it under the tap and pop it into the oven for a few minutes.
The water helps rehydrate the bread, and it will come out of the oven tasting fluffy and fresh.
4. Wrap your cheese in baking paper
Cheese might come in plastic wrapping, but it won’t survive for long like that in your fridge. Instead, wrap it in a porous material – such as baking paper – so it can still breathe, but doesn’t harden up like it would exposed to the air.
5. Put wine in the freezer
If you haven’t finished a bottle of wine and don’t want it to go to waste, freeze it in an ice cube tray.
This creates perfect portions of wine to add to your next stew or bolognese, or to use to make a sangria.
6. Only wash salad when you want to eat it
Moisture is the enemy of salad, so next time you buy a bag of greens, don’t be tempted to immediately rinse it under a tap.
Instead, line a plastic container with paper towels, put the leaves on top (not too tight), and place some more paper towels on top.
When you’re ready to eat, give them a quick rinse and you’ll be good to go.
7. Rinse berries in a vinegar solution
There’s nothing more annoying than buying a beautiful punnet of berries, only to have them going soft or mouldy within days.
However, washing them in a solution of three parts water, one part vinegar may keep them fresher for longer – as long as you dry them properly after washing, and store in a paper towel-lined plastic tub.
8. Wrap clingfilm around banana stems
If you find yourself constantly dealing with brown bananas, buy yourself a bit of time by wrapping the stems in cling film.
Bananas produce ethylene gas, and this speeds up the ripening process when it travels to the rest of the fruit.
You can slow things down by wrapping the stems in cling film – equally, production of ethylene gas is slowed when you hang bananas up by a hook.
9. Put carrot and celery sticks in water
It’s hard enough getting kids to eat carrot and celery sticks, let alone if they’ve gone a bit soft and limp.
If you want to maintain that crunch, you could try cutting the veg into sticks and storing them upright in glass jars, fully submerged in water.
Read the latest issue of IOL Food digital magazine here.