The fridge rule that could save you big bucks
Just say your weekly shop was about $200. What if I grabbed $40 of that $200, and lit it on fire - would you be annoyed? I would be furious, because $40 can buy a whole lot of food.
The sad thing is I don't have to waste your money because Aussies are doing it themselves by throwing away 20 per cent of all of their food. Insanity! An even scarier statistic is that a third of all the food produced in the world is lost or wasted, according to Ozharvest.org. And half of all fruit and vegetables end up in landfill.
Now, I am guilty of letting zucchinis become watery masses of disgustingness that look like science experiments or curious new alien lifeforms at the back of the fridge. In fact, I've let go of the thought of beautiful fresh vegetables and only stick to the frozen variety because they came home to die in my fridge.
Food wastage is something we should all focus on - not only to save money but to save the planet. Here are my top tips on reducing waste.
STICK TO FROZEN VEGETABLES
Fresh is best - I totally agree. And if you are going to buy fresh vegies and eat them right away - do it. But if you are like me and forget about that piece of pumpkin, then do yourself a favour and save a heap by just buying the frozen variety. Use what you need and pop the rest back in the freezer. Easy.
BUY FRESH AND FREEZE
Items such as capsicum and onions are beautiful when in season, and cheap. Buy them in bulk, chop them up and freeze them. They last beautifully and you can pour them in frozen to stir-fries or casseroles.
USE DAMAGED AND OVERRIPE FRUIT AS DESSERT
If your fruit bowl is looking a little suspect, use that fruit to make a delicious fruit crumble for dessert. Overripe fruit is perfect for crumbles, you just chop them all up and put them in the bottom of a pie dish, top with a little brown sugar, rolled oats and cinnamon and bake until golden. Serve with ice cream or custard. And never throw out a nearly black or spotty banana. Just take off the skin and pop into a ziplock bag. Frozen bananas are great for smoothies, you can make dairy-free banana ice cream by whipping frozen banana in your blender. Plus there is always banana bread and banana pancakes.
INVEST IN A COMPOST BIN
When I clean out my fridge and find all my dead vegetables, rather than adding to landfill by putting them in the wheelie bin, I put them in a compost bin. Compost bins don't take up a lot of room and somewhat make up for the fact you forgot about that food in the fridge. After a few months of aerating, add the compost to your garden and mix well with a garden fork. Your plants will love you for it.
USE PINK BASKET METHOD
The Pink Basket Method is something I invented to try to stop food from rotting in the fridge. I chose pink because I have a house full of males and pink stands out. I pop the pink basket in the fridge and any food nearing the end of its life goes in there. Then when I go to make dinner - the pink basket is the first place I look for ingredients.
LEMON AND ORANGE PEEL HOMEMADE CLEANER
Always keep your old jam and coffee jars and use them, together with lemon or orange peel to make a fantastic home cleaner. You place the peel into the jar and then top it up with vinegar. Allow the jar to steep for a couple of weeks. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and you have your own homemade all-purpose cleaner - and it smells amazing.
SAVE YOUR SCRAPS
Bought a whole chicken and just have the carcass left? Put it in a bag in the freezer. Same with vegetable peelings, the top off your celery and any offcuts. These can all go in a large pot to make homemade chicken stock. Your stock can then be frozen for when you want to make soups. Chicken stock is the perfect base for most soups - and if you are vegetarian or vegan, omit the meat. Bread crusts can go in the freezer and be used to make fresh breadcrumbs or a delicious stuffing for roast.
There are hundreds of fantastic ways to save on food wastage. Every person can make a difference - and the savings can be significant.
Jody Allen is the founder of mothers' network Stay At Home Mum. Find her at @StayHomeMum on Facebook, @jodyallen.stayathomemum on Instagram, @JodyAllen_SAHM on Twitter
Originally published as The fridge rule that could save you big bucks