Food hacks are a great way to save time in the kitchen, in this busy world we live in. If you can save money too, then it's always a bonus.
Less time in the kitchen means more time with those you love and more time to take care of yourself.
Who doesn't love a food hack that helps us know how to best store food, or even if we can freeze it for later use?
Here are some food hacks to make your life easier:
1) Spring Onions
These can start to go off after a couple of days, if not refrigerated. By putting them in the salad drawer in your fridge, you can extend their life by up to 2 weeks.
The green parts of the spring onion are sweeter than the stronger flavoured white part.
If they have roots on the white part, you can regrow them in water by using the following method:
- Put the spring onions root down in a jar of water. The water level should be about 1 cm below where the green part begins and the water should be changed every day.
- Cut the top green parts off when you need them.
2) Beetroot Leaves
Yes, you can eat these, but only the leaves that are still green.
Cut the tough ends of the stalks off the beetroot and eat them raw, or steam, cook in stock, or fry in butter.
3) Kale Leaves
Now this could all get a bit 50 Shades of Grey, but have you ever massaged a kale leaf?
While running under the tap to clean them you can massage the leaves to soften their texture.
4) Carrot Tops
Add them to a pan of water with other veg to make vegetable stock.
Get your children involved in reducing waste by getting them to help you replant them. It may even tempt them to eat them, if they don’t normally:
- Put the carrot tops on a plate with enough water to cover them about halfway up.
- Green shoots should appear after a few days. Allow these to grow to a few centimetres.
- Plant them, shoots down, in enough soil to cover the orange part of the carrot top, not the shoots.
- Water regularly.
5) Potato Peels
Take advantage of the nutrients in potato skins and make crisps with them.
Lay them individually on a baking tray, brush with oil, sprinkle over any flavourings, such as cajun, salt and pepper or chilli. Bake until crispy.
6) Brown Bananas
As bananas become more brown they become sweeter. This makes them perfect to make banana bread with.
You can also chop them up, pop them in a freezable container and freeze them. You can then whizz them up in a blender with fruit to make a healthy ice cream.
If you fancy a quick and easy healthy dessert, why not try slicing them lengthways and baking them in the oven with honey and raisins.
7) Orange Peels
These add a citrus scent to homemade vinegar cleaners.
Want to only use half an avocado? Brush lemon juice over the flesh of the remaining half and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Bread freezes really well. You can freeze all or just half of the loaf. You can toast it from frozen.
Grate or whizz stale bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. You can add herbs and cheese to the mixture and sprinkle on top of pasta bakes or fish pies. You can also freeze the breadcrumb mixture if you don’t use all of it.
Do you have good intentions to turn flour into a perfect cake, bread or pizza dough, but it doesn’t always happen? Simply freeze it in an airtight container.
11) Pizza Dough
If you do manage to use your flour to make pizza dough, make sure you make lots of it and freeze some for later. There are always happy faces when a pizza can be made at short notice.
Prove the dough, then divide into portions, wrap in clingfilm and put into a freezer bag in the freezer.
12) Lemon Zest
Lemon zest can be used in sauces, dressings and baking. If you ever need to juice a lemon, grate the zest off first and put in a freezer bag in the freezer.
Crack eggs, whole or beaten, into a silicone muffin tin before freezing, then push them out into a freezer bag, once they are frozen, and pop them back in the freezer. They thaw overnight in the fridge, however, do not re-freeze once they have thawed.
You can freeze within its packaging in a freezer bag. It may be best to slice it into portions if you don’t think you’ll need the whole block.
Label the freezer bag a year from when you freeze it, if it’s salted butter, so you know you need to use it all by then. Make it 6 months for unsalted butter. It should defrost overnight in the fridge.
Most people are surprised when they realise you can freeze cheese. They don’t make the connection that you can buy frozen pizzas and they have cheese on them.
You can freeze it grated or cut it into portion sizes you would normally use for a meal or for baking.
Wrap in a freezer bag before popping it in the freezer.
16) Fresh Tomatoes
If you grow tomatoes and get a bumper crop you can freeze them, but only if you’re planning on using them to make sauces, soups and any other tomato-based meal with them.
Wash and freeze them in freezer bags.
Garlic cloves can be peeled and put into the freezer in freezer safe jars, or you can chop them and freeze them in ice cube trays.
However, garlic may not be as strong as before freezing.
Fresh herbs can be wrapped in damp kitchen roll and put in a freezer bag in the fridge to make them last longer.
You can also wash, dry them and put them in a freezer bag in the freezer.
Alternatively, chop what’s left of any herbs you bought and mix them with a small amount of olive oil. Add the mixture to ice cube trays and freeze. When needed, just drop them into the sauce or meal you are making.
Freeze ginger with its skin on and grate what you need and put it back in the freezer.
20) Buy Wonky Veg
None of us are perfect and that goes for veg too.
Wonky veg is usually cheaper than ‘perfect’ veg. There’s nothing wrong with a carrot with a few knobbly bits. It’s got carro’c’ter. Sorry, had to be done.
21) Pulp from Juicing or Nut Milks
Pulp from nut milks and juices can be frozen and used later in baking to add texture or colour.
22) Use Chicken Carcass for Stock
Don’t throw that chicken carcass away from your Sunday roast dinner. Add it to some water, vegetable peelings and herbs to make a nutritious chicken stock.
Weren’t they a Swedish pop group in the 70s?
Aquafaba is the water in a can of chickpeas or cooking liquid from cooking dry chickpeas (who has time for that??). It can be used as a substitute for eggs.
Freeze it if you can’t use it immediately.
Before you go shopping for more food, go through your vegetable drawer in your fridge. If you don’t want to eat whole veg or fruit, then juice it.
The juice can be a drink or made into ice lollies.
25) End of the Fridge Stir-fry
You could gather up any leftover veg and throw it in a stir-fry. They are quick to make, and you have no waste.
26) Roasted Veg
Another way to use end of the week veg is to put it in a roasting tin with some herbs, spices and oil and roast in the oven.