It’s the end of January and Christmas has left us with tight waistbands and worrying bank balances. To get you through the next week, we have a way for you to eat for free – eat the food you already have.
Most of us have cupboards and freezers filled with food that has already been paid for. The longer it stays there, the less likely we are to use it. This week, while you count down to pay-day, eat the food you have at home! Staying out of the shops will help you save money, save food and leave more time for that new gym-membership, or the couch…
How many times have you come back from the supermarket with two tins of tomatoes to find six already in the cupboard? Now is the time to use them up! Kidney beans and tinned tomatoes could make the base for a great veggie chilli. Tins of tuna and sweetcorn could save you buying a lunch or two. Although tinned food should be safe to eat indefinitely, it’s best to use up acidic food like tomatoes within 18 months of purchasing and other tins within 2-5 years. If a tin is bulging, leaking or badly rusted, it’s best not to chance it!
Using your freezer is a great way to store food, but it can very easily turn into an icy black hole. When stored correctly, food can last a very long time in the freezer but usually, quality starts to degrade after 3-6 months.
This evening, stick on those bargain ski-gloves from the sales and have a good look through your freezer. Make a list of what you have and see what you can use up this week. Frozen peas are great with pasta and pesto, simple! A few forgotten chicken breasts could be rescued by a flavoursome curry. Feeling brave? Give one of those iced-over mystery meals a go.
Fruit and Veg
It’s been a couple of weeks since your fleeting New Year juice-craze and there are now several wrinkly apples and bendy carrots lying around the kitchen. Don’t give up on them just yet – aging fruit and veg can be saved!
- Soak: Putting limp veg in a bowl of ice-cold water for 5- 10 minutes will perk them right up.
- Blend: Peel, slice and cook old apples with some cinnamon and sugar. It’s gorgeous on porridge- a breakfast much more suited to dark January mornings than a chilled power smoothie.
- Roast: Throw wilted veg in the oven with salt, pepper and some olive oil. Roasting can transform even the saddest looking veggies into a tasty dish!
Once you have a better idea of what food is already in your kitchen, plan a few meals for the week. There are loads of recipes online, try Supercook or Good Food Ireland to search based on the ingredients you have.
Finally, if you’re feeling creative (or lazy), just wing it! Not everything has to follow a recipe or be Instagram-worthy. Who knows, maybe couscous and marmalade will be your new thing!