Despite our best intentions, sometimes we’re left with fruits and veggies past their prime. Save them from the compost or green waste (and stretch your grocery budget further!) with our tips on to get the most from your fruit and veg.
Store with care.
First and foremost, storing your fresh produce is key to helping it last the distance. If you can, avoid overcrowding your crisper drawer in the fridge, storing any excess items in air-tight containers on the shelves. Mushrooms love a dry paper bag, whilst wrapping fresh herbs and leafy greens (especially lettuces and salad leaves) in damp paper towel makes a dramatic difference!
If certain herbs and vegetables are looking a bit sad and wilted, try standing them in water for a few minutes to bring them back to life. Just like us, they need water too! Use the supermarket itself as your guide to what might benefit from a little hydration; certain produce varieties (think lettuces, sprouts, broccolini, radishes, and so on!) are commonly misted in the supermarket to help them stay fresh and crisp.
Even if you’re not into batch cooking, incorporating some simple prep into your grocery routine can help set you up for the week ahead. Try slicing up whole fruits (e.g. watermelon, pineapple) and snipping off smaller grape bunches, so they’re easy to reach for. Meanwhile, vegetables like pumpkin, carrot, capsicum, broccoli and cauliflower store well once sliced, ready to be added straight into a stir fry or curry when you’re low on time and energy.
Use it all.
Wherever possible, use the whole vegetable! Recipes are simply a guide; if you have a little too much for a particular recipe, tweak the other ingredients in proportion to keep things balanced.
- Blending an entire pumpkin, sweet potato or cauliflower into a soup.
- Adding extra veggies into sauces – carrot, zucchini and celery (either finely chopped or grated) are all great additions to a Bolognese sauce, for example.
- Keeping any extra roast veggies to add to other dishes later on.
- Slicing the whole broccoli (stem and all!) for use in stir fries and curries.
- Shredding an entire cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower into a slaw (delicious with either a vinaigrette or a creamier dressing made from tahini, natural yoghurt or cashew cream).
Add greens to everything!
Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, silver beet and kale are incredibly versatile! They can be chopped and stirred through pasta sauces, curries, slow cooked casseroles and rice dishes, or even blitzed into a pesto, which can be enjoyed with everything from scrambled eggs to sandwiches.
Blend and juice.
Many fruits and veggies are great additions to smoothies and fresh juices. Adding frozen banana, zucchini or cauliflower is a great way to achieve a thicker smoothie; meanwhile, citrus fruits, apple, pear, melon, cucumber, beetroot, celery and carrot all work well in juices. Tip: Reduce the sugar content by opting for a predominantly veggie-based juice.
Bananas, berries and stone fruits are great candidates for freezing! They’re perfect for adding to smoothies, breakfast oats and baking.
Alongside the usual suspects like bananas, apples, stone fruits and berries, (grated) zucchini and (cooked, mashed and cooled) sweet potato work incredibly well in wholesome muffins, banana bread and brownies. A crumble is another great way to use up apples, pears, berries and stone fruits past their prime. Finally, if guacamole isn’t your thing, avocado also forms a great base for chocolate mousse and goes nicely in smoothies!
When all else fails, try a frittata (they truly work with just about anything!) or a simple, vegetarian cottage-style pie. For something a little different, sauté finely-chopped, cooked vegetables with onion and garlic in extra-virgin olive oil, boosting the flavour with a spoonful of harissa paste or crumbled feta. Spoon your mixture lengthways along two layers of four filo sheets, arranged end-to-end (and slightly overlapping) along your benchtop. Roll up to enclose the filling, and then firmly coil the filo around itself to create a spiral shape. Brush with extra-virgin olive oil, bake until crisp, and enjoy!
Tell us, what’s your favourite way to use up extra fruits and veggies?
For expert dietary support on your personal health and wellbeing journey, book your first appointment with one of our wonderful Accredited Practising Dietitians today.
Written by Caitlin Branch, Student Nutritionist, and Amanda Smith, Accredited Practising Dietitian.