In the UK, we throw away an eye-watering 9.5 million tonnes of food every year, with 70% of this coming from household food waste. Not only does this greatly impact the planet, but it puts a dent in our wallets too. Food waste is estimated to cost the average UK household £60 every month, and in the current economic climate, we really can't afford to be throwing away money in the form of food.
One of the most commonly binned foods is salad. During the summer months especially, salads are a fantastic addition to your diet, especially if you are trying to lose weight as they're low in calories and packed with nutrients. However, I am sure we've all been guilty of popping our purchases in the salad drawer of the fridge, only to discover them untouched and past their best a week or more later. In fact, we throw away around 40% of the bagged salad we buy!
If you're on a mission to save money and be less wasteful, check out these 5 salad hacks!
Bagged salad leaves have a shorter shelf life than buying unwashed, unprepared produce, so buy the full head of lettuce instead. To keep your salad leaves fresher for longer, you need just one item – kitchen roll. When you get your shopping home, open up the leaves and pop in a sheet of kitchen roll. The kitchen roll will absorb excess moisture to keep the leaves fresher for longer. Better still, transfer to a sealed plastic container lined with kitchen roll to lock in the freshness even more. Or use Stayfresh Longer Vegetable Storage bags – they are plastic, but you can wash and reuse them multiple times.
This fix is designed to rescue limp lettuce and avoid it getting binned. If you notice your lettuce head is looking a little droopy, run a bowl of cold water, and throw in some ice cubes (if you have any). Submerge the lettuce and soak for 15 minutes, or up to an hour if very limp. The leaves should absorb water and become crisp again. Remove and pat dry.
If you've ever cut an avocado in two, eaten half and put the rest aside for later, you'll know what happens. You return to find the previously bright green fruit has turned a less-than-appealing brown hue. No more! To retain your avocado's fresh colour, squeeze lemon juice over the cut surface, including where the stone once was. The chemical reaction between the avocado and oxygen in the air is delayed by vitamin C in the lemon juice – think of the lemon juice as a protective coating for your avo!
There is a common belief that keeping the stone in the avocado keeps it fresh, but this is a myth as it can't prevent the oxidation reaction. The stone may prevent air from reaching the flesh below it reducing browning in part, but it can't stop it.
Where to store your tomatoes! In the fridge? In a cupboard? On the windowsill? The debate is usually around the ripeness of your tomatoes. Under-ripe tomatoes will ripen at room temperature, whereas very ripe tomatoes do better in the fridge. However wherever you store your tomatoes, make sure the stem side is facing down.
The side the tomato sits on is the side that ripens the fastest, and the top of a tomato around the stem is the slowest to ripen. This means it's firmer, making it the most suitable area to bear the tomato's weight without bruising or wrinkling. If your tomatoes are sitting stem side up and the bottom is already ripe, they will continue ripening to the point where it starts to rot. So extend the life of your tomatoes by flipping them over. Who knew you could save money by flipping your tomatoes?!
A flavoursome addition to salads, but the root ends of the humble spring onion always end up wasted. I'm not suggesting you eat these – that would be a less than pleasant experience! But there is something you can do to ensure you have an ongoing supply!
Chop your onions 2-3cm from the root and place root-side down in a jar of water, using the sides of the jar to prop them up. Leave the jar on a well-lit windowsill or balcony. Ensure the roots stay submerged. After a few days, you should see green shoots beginning to grow again. By changing the water regularly (at least once a week), and replenishing your jar, you can have yourself a free, endless supply of spring onions!
No salad is complete without a delicious dressing. However, if you're tracking calories, you'll know how it's possible for a generous coating to tip your salad from a low-calorie meal into a source of extra calories that erode your calorie deficit. The best way to control the nutrition of your salad, as well as save money, is to make your own. It costs a fraction of a shop-bought bottle, and you can choose whatever ingredients you like and log them in the app accurately.
Top tip! If you have any fresh herbs lying around in your fridge, chop finely and add to your salad or dressing, it's a perfect way to use them up.
Check out 6 super-tasty salad recipes that aren't boring! You can also find them in the Nutracheck app and log a portion in just a few taps.
Nutritionist Amy Wood (ANutr), MSci BSc Nutrition has a keen interest in the relationship between diet and health. Having been published in the European Journal of Nutrition, Amy is passionate about making evidence-based nutrition accessible to everyone and helping others to adopt a food-focused approach to taking control of their health.