- Shelter your potatoes, pumpkins and kumara - When it comes to starchy root vegetables, good storage is everything, it can more than double their lifespan. Store in a cool, dark place, but not in the fridge. The best is a cool pantry or shed. Kumara (and potatoes) you should keep in the dark to prevent them from sprouting and rotting. Kept this way, they should last 3-4 weeks.
- Don't buy bags of pre-mixed salad or pre-cut vegetables - These are expensive, and deteriorate very quickly once opened. Unless you’re going to use the whole bag immediately and really don’t have the time to buy and prepare your own vegetables, you should buy whole veggies and whole heads of lettuce instead; they’ll last much longer. If you do buy loose-leaf greens, choose watercress, rocket & spinach medleys, which can be whizzed into pesto and frozen at the first sign of wilting.
- Make dairy last longer - While I personally don’t eat any diary, there are lots of people who can tolerate it well and in spite of being one of the largest dairy producers in the world; we in New Zealand still pay a premium for it. You can make the most of bulk buying by freezing milk that is nearing its use-by date in manageable 500ml portions, defrost when needed. Grated cheese can also be frozen in BPA free plastic containers and used straight from the freezer in cooking. And don’t forget frozen yogurt – make a low sugar dessert by whizzing up berries or fruit like mango or banana with organic yogurt in a food processor and freeze in ice-pop moulds.
- If life gives you apples, make... crumble? Apart from making fruit crumble (Elena from Elana's Pantry has a great recipe here), if your apples and pears are nearing the ‘over-ripe- stage, you can grate them into porridge, sauté roughly chopped apples with kumara and Freedom Farms pork mince to make a breakfast hash or make into fruit sauce or compote and stash in the freezer.
- Buy cheaper cuts of meat and get out your slow cooker - Bolar roast or brisket is a fairly cheap cut of meat which is fabulous when slow cooked with a few vegetables and a little bit of homemade stock. The same can be said for a whole chicken (free range if possible) or pork roast. You can freeze individual portions of cooked and sliced meat to use in recipes or on sandwiches. That will save you money on packets of pre-sliced ham, chicken or beef.
- Sort out your pantry - A well-stocked pantry will help you to bulk out leftovers for speedy weeknight dinners, and save you money. To prevent cans and jars at the back spoiling bring the oldest items to the front and the new ones to the back. Make a list of items nearing their use-by and stick it up on the pantry door, then plan meals around those items so that you don’t throw anything away simply because you haven’t gotten around to using it.
- Make the best use of your freezer - Don’t fill your freezer to the brim with half-used bags of peas or fish fingers. While most items will be safe to eat for a few months, it’s best to use up food while it’s as fresh as possible. I label all of my freezer bags and containers, so I don’t completely forget what’s in them and end up with ‘freezer-surprise’ for dinner. Once a month, try to have a week of meals from the freezer to have a good clear-out. It’ll also save you time in the supermarket that week!
- Cut down on ready meals, or better yet - don't buy them at all - While not as popular in NZ as they are in the USA or UK, ready meals are usually expensive, often nutritionally unbalanced, and full of sugar and salt. Instead of spending money on one of the most wasted foods in the world, spend some time making a batch of stew, chilli or curry. Freeze in individual portions, which will be ready for when you need a speedy meal. You’ll know exactly what you’re putting in your body, and your wallet will thank you too.
I hope you found some of those tips useful… What do you do to save money in the kitchen (apart from following ‘Save with Jamie’ to the letter?)