We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us, in this article we look at how to use and store them properly for maximum freshness and minimum wastage.
Payday Loans Net is an online lender that helps UK consumers get through temporary financial difficulty. But if we can find ways for you to save money and not need payday laons direct lenders like us, we are veen happier! In this article, you will learn how to make the most of your fruit and veg spending, both in financial terms and in dietary benefits for you and your family. We look at great tips to save money as we eat our five a day, finding ways to avoid waste and create better taste.
This article explains:
- Why fruit and vegetables are good for us
- Fruit and vegetables are too expensive, how can I afford my five a day?
- Busting the myth that you can’t afford healthy eating
- How to improve your diet by getting your five a day
- What constitutes one of your five a day?
- Buying fruit and vegetables – shop smart
- How long do fruit and vegetables last when stored?
- Top tips for storing your produce to stay fresh for longer
- How to use your fresh produce at its best
- What to do if you have too much produce to use
After years of flat-lining wages in the austerity economy, prices, especially for food, seem to be rising again. Apart from shopping around to save money, one of the best ways you can save on your weekly housekeeping is to eradicate waste. One of the biggest challenges is avoiding throwing away fruit and vegetables which have gone off or past their best.
Why fruit and vegetables are good for us
People accept fresh fruit and vegetables as being good for your health and for helping to avoid being overweight. While expert opinion and reports may vary in detail, the UK government and NHS recommend you eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Fruit and vegetables provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals essential for good health, along with growth and development in children. Many fruits and vegetables also contain fibre which is good for gut health and general wellbeing. The added advantage is that fruit and vegetables help make us feel full and satisfied with far fewer calories than other foods such as meat, cakes, pastries and bread.
Fruit and vegetables are too expensive, how can I afford my five a day?
Busting the myth that you can’t afford healthy eating
Many people complain that they cannot afford to buy enough fresh fruit and vegetables to meet the health advice to eat five portions a day. The simple fact is that fresh fruit and vegetables, purchased in season, are amongst the cheapest foods you can buy. If you are lucky enough to live near to a market, they can be a great place to find fruit and vegetables at the best prices, as can traditional greengrocers. However, don’t let the lack of such outlets close to you be an excuse to avoid your five a day. All the major supermarkets carry a broad range of fresh fruit and vegetables. The price war brought on by the expansion of discounters Aldi and Lidl have indeed increased competition and keen prices for fruit and vegetables.
There is an increasing trend towards less meat eating in the UK. Market research firm Mintel reports that up to 11% of British people recently surveyed have attempted a meat-free vegan diet. However, the report does not state how many successfully stuck with a hard core vegan regime. 8% more people have been increasing fruit and vegetables in their diet and reducing meat consumption.
This so-called light meat-eating is growing rapidly. Claims of people who eat meat ten times a week are declining even more quickly. While people might reduce or abstain from eating meat for varying reasons. Some eat less meat for better health, weight control or loss, environmental worries or animal welfare concerns. It is also widely recognised that replacing expensive meat with cheaper fruit and vegetables in our diets can save us a lot of money.
Cheap food preparation ideas
Many popular dishes can be made cheaper and tastier by adding fruit and vegetables or substituting meat on some occasions with vegetables.
Fruit and vegetables can help stretch your meals leading to significant savings in your weekly shopping bill. Many people are now adopting “clean eating. This is a regime which doesn’t eliminate meat from your diet but reduces it to a maximum of three main meals a week. A diet comprising more vegetables to help you get your five a day need not be bland or uninteresting. With a little imagination and experimentation vegetables can enhance your menu. Try adding vegetables to dishes you regularly cook to make less meat go further.
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You can make a bolognese sauce for serving with spaghetti or in a pasta dish such as lasagne or pastichio much tastier. Replace half the minced beef with finely chopped or grated vegetables of your choice, and then cook it as usual. Try adding finely chopped mushrooms, red or green peppers and grated carrots to make more for less giving you a great taste while saving you money. Maybe next month, you won’t need a payday UK loan to get you to pay day! Remember, when preparing a dish like this, or stew and casseroles, check to see what vegetables may be at risk of being thrown away and use them up before they spoil.
Have you developed a list of vegetables you do not like?
Many people have probably been put off vegetables at an early age by only being served a limited repertoire of bland boiled vegetables, maybe overcooked, offering little in the way of flavour or texture. Get adventurous in the kitchen and look at new ways to introduce more exciting tastes and textures to your meals by introducing more fruit and veg to your diet. Salads can be made more appetising by adding fruit to traditional salad items. Try adding chopped apple or orange to some grated cheese tossed in your favourite salad dressing, enhance your green salad by adding slices of avocado or juicy ripe pears… the options are only limited by your imagination.
How to improve your diet by getting your five a day
What constitutes one of your five a day?
UK government and NHS health advise everyone to ensure they eat at lease five portions of fruit or vegetables each day. With many people existing on convenience foods, fast food and takeaway meals nowadays this may seem like an impossible task for many people. It is worth making an effort to reorder your food intake to ensure you get your five a day. Your health will benefit, not least by making weight control easier. Eating more fruit and vegetables will help you spend considerably less on your grocery shopping, saving considerable amounts on your household budget. What’s not to like about eating healthily and saving money, or even avoiding getting into debt?
Most fruits and vegetables count towards your five a day, whether you buy them fresh, frozen or canned. Many consumers do not realise this, thinking only fresh produce counts towards the total. This couldn’t be further from the case. Freezing and canning are great ways of preserving fruit and vegetables, keeping most of their nutritional benefits intact in a convenient form which is easy to store over extended periods.
Buying fruit and vegetables – shop smart
Plan before you shop! Some estimates state that individuals purchase an excess of up to 40% of fresh fruit and vegetables, and then have to dispose of it.
Firstly, try to plan your menu for the days ahead before you go shopping. Make a note of everything you throw in the bin or on the compost heap. Learn what you have been wasting to help avoid future wastage. Then plan what you need to buy and make a list to stick to while you are shopping. Be sensible and mindful when planning your menu of the effect seasonality and availability have on price – do not expect to buy asparagus at Christmas (when it will probably be expensive and imported from South America) when the best local grown and cheapest asparagus is available in May and June from UK growers.
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How long do fruit and vegetables last when stored?
Most fresh fruits and vegetables will keep well if stored in a refrigerator running at an appropriate temperature of 0c to 5c in the salad crisper except for potatoes, onions, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes which you should store in a cool, dry place. Do not wash or over handle your produce before storing as this can cause damage and accelerate spoilage. Salad leaves (lettuce etc.) and tender greens are the exception – you should wash these, and dry them after removing any damaged or bruised leaves before storing in a sealed bag or fridge container.
Here are seven handy tips to keep produce fresh for longer:
- Some produce such as bananas, avocados, peaches, nectarines, apples, plums and tomatoes produce ethylene which accelerates ripening, so it makes sense to keep different types of fruit and vegetables separated unless you wish to promote accelerated ripening.
- Prepare salad leaves as soon as you purchase them – wash and dry using a salad spinner or kitchen roll and store in the fridge after drying in a sealed container or lightly wrapped in cling-film – ready to use.
- Chop and freeze onions and spring onions then place in containers in your freezer to keep fresh for ages – and ready to use when you want them.
- Wash and chop fresh herbs as soon as you get home to eliminate waste, then pop them in ice-cube trays and top up with water to make ready to use herb cubes to add to your dishes. A twist on this tip is to use olive oil instead of water for some herbs such as basil and thyme – ready to use in your Mediterranean dishes and stir fry. Just freeze and preserve.
- When soft fruits such as peaches, nectarines, pears and bananas have ripened in the fruit bowl transfer them to the fridge to help stop the ripening and keep them good to eat for a few days more.
- Most soft fruits can be successfully frozen to stop them spoiling – as can most cooked vegetables, making them easy to reheat to serve with meals.
- Get into meal prep – arrange a batch cooking session as soon after shopping as you can to pre-prepare dishes to store in the fridge or freezer for easy meals through the week – eliminating food wastage and saving lots of money.
Top tips for keeping fruits and vegetables fresh longer
Make sure you buy the best fruit and vegetables to suit your needs. If you wish to eat or cook with your purchases straight away buy ripened fruit ready to eat. When buying produce which needs to last a few days, adjust your purchases accordingly: firm melons or avocados and green bananas will stay fresher for longer in your salad drawer in the fridge, and can then be brought out to the fruit bowl to ripen at room temperature after a few days. If fruit becomes too ripe, such as bananas, pears, strawberries and the like, do not throw them away, use them to make delicious smoothies or milkshakes or as ingredients in cakes, or baked or steamed puddings.
Ideally, when planning your menu and shopping list have a plan of action for when you arrive home. Store all the items such as salads and soft fruits, which you intend to eat without cooking, immediately in your refrigerator or if appropriate in a cool, dry place away from strong odours. For items which you intend to use to cook and prepare dishes, it makes good sense to plan to use them as soon as possible. Apart from totally avoiding spoilage, cooking with fresh produce as soon as possible after purchase also means you will capture more of the goodness including the vitamins and minerals in your prepared dishes. These deteriorate over time in storage.
What to do if you have too much produce to use
Take action before it is too late. Ideally, decide on the day of purchase to use up surplus food by processing it or using it as an ingredient to pre-cook a meal dish. Ensure you use up fresh produce before it goes off by batch cooking, then freezing or chilling dishes for use later. Alternatively, you can pre-cook many vegetables and fruits. Place them in containers in the fridge or freezer. You can easily reheat them in the microwave to accompany future meals. If you choose to meal prep (batch cook) or pre-cook produce, always remember to label the bags or containers. This is especially useful if you are freezing food, to ensure it is easy to identify before defrosting or using.
In conclusion, you can save lots of money by avoiding wasting your fresh fruit and vegetables. That way, we can avoid getting into debt and needing online loans to get by. By being smarter at buying, storing and preparing you can make sure you get the best nutrition and taste from your produce as you keep to a healthy diet.