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- Cooking a roast? If you’re already using your oven, pop an extra tray of chopped veg in the bottom of the oven to save time and money. Whether it’s carrots, squash, peppers, onions or aubergine, these can then be kept in the fridge and added to salads, soups, pasta or curries throughout the week.
If you can, invest in a stick blender to help you make your own soups, sauces and dips. A smoother texture also means you can pack in extra veg for even the fussiest of eaters. Fry carrots, onions, leeks celery, courgette, peppers or leeks, add a tin of chopped tomato and blend until smooth. Use as a base for a Bolognese or tuna pasta bake!
A little salt and pepper is all you really need to make your food taste great, but if you have the space for herbs and spices these can make a big difference. Try dried oregano with tomato, cumin with aubergine and paprika with peppers.
Store it: Aubergines will keep in the vegetable drawer of the fridge for up to 4 days. Only chop your aubergine when you’re ready to cook with it to avoid the flesh browning.
Save it: Chop and roast the aubergine in a little oil, then leave to cool and freeze on a lined tray. Once frozen, tip into freezer bags and add handfuls to pasta sauces.
Serve it: Char the aubergines whole over the hob or on a barbecue and scoop out the flesh for a flavoursome dip with lemon, cumin and natural yoghurt.
More ideas to try: Enjoy a lower-carb take on moussaka with loaded aubergine boats.
Store it: Unlike many vegetables, carrots can be stored in plastic and should be kept in the fridge where they should last at least a week. Don’t eat black carrots but limp carrots are fine to eat and still delicious in soups or dips!
Save it: Peel and finely dice with onion and celery, then freeze in bags for an instant ‘sofrito mix’ for pasta sauces, soups and stews.
Serve it: Add coarsely grated carrot to a stir-fry, or fry it on its own with lemon juice and cumin for a speedy side to curries or chilli.
More ideas to try: Simple carrot soup is made to taste really special by adding a drizzle of honey while they’re frying. Use up all your root veg in this delicious rosti, great to have for a filling brunch or tasty supper.
Store it: Onions will keep for longer if they’re stored in a cool, dark place. Remove any plastic packaging and keep in a mesh bag somewhere dry.
Save it: Get your goggles out! Chop up all your onions and freeze in a bag or container. Use handfuls straight from the freezer when you’re cooking for a handy time saver.
Serve it: Fry finely sliced onions with a pinch of sugar, a splash of water and a dash or Worcestershire sauce until soft and golden. Add a spoonful of flour and a large mugful of stock to simmer into an onion gravy, or leave dry for the perfect topping for hotdogs!
More ideas to try: Swap your Sunday roast for pulled pork, slow-cooked in an onion-y broth.
Store it: Keep your bananas somewhere cool and dark until ripe enough for your tastes, then you can pop them in the fridge to keep them going a little longer.
Save it: Slice your bananas and spread them across a lined baking tray with a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook in a low oven for 2 hours, or until crisp – perfect for lunchboxes!
Serve it: Use to add richness and texture to smoothies and overnight oats, or mix through hot custard for a nostalgic dessert.
More ideas to try: Freeze chopped banana overnight to make a playful, healthier spin on a sundae. Left your bananas to get a little too ripe? It’s the perfect time to make a batch of banana bread. Mashed banana is the perfect early weaning recipe. Try adding a little avocado too.
Store it: Lettuce should be kept in the fridge and not pushed to the back where it might get too cool. To make it last a little longer, place a paper towel in the bag with your lettuce to absorb escaping moisture.
Save it: Limp lettuce and sad greens are simply dehydrated. Leave them to soak in cool water for 30 minutes to restore crispness for another few days.
Serve it: Embrace any wilting leaves with a warm salad – try cooked chicken, bacon and avocado tossed in French dressing, or tuna with boiled eggs and potatoes.
More ideas to try: Load up whole lettuce leaves with meat or rice and use in place of wraps.
Store it: Keep potatoes in a cool, dark place and never store them in plastic. A paper bag or even your Too Good To Waste cardboard box if you have room would work well.
Save it: Next time you’re prepping your potatoes make a little extra to use them up. You could freeze chipped potatoes ready to bake straight from the freezer, or transform leftover mash into pie toppings or the foundations of fishcakes for a meal later in the week.
Serve it: Peel and boil your potatoes in salted water until soft, while gently frying chopping onions in butter in a separate pan. Drain and mash the potatoes, stir through the buttery onions and a handful of grated cheese, then scrape into an ovenproof dish. Top with more cheese and bake until golden, serving with sausages, peas or baked beans.
Store it: Peppers are pretty hardy, and will keep for up to a couple of weeks in the vegetable drawer of your fridge.
Save it: While you can chop and freeze peppers raw, peppers do last a long time in the fridge and are still fine to eat when they start to wrinkle and soften. At this point they’d taste better cooked rather than eaten raw.
Serve it: Lots of leftovers? Cut the stems and seeds out of peppers and roast whole in the oven, then fill with whatever you have to use up, such as Bolognese, risotto, curry or cooked rice. Add some grated cheese, then wrap in foil and roast for another 15 minutes.
More ideas to try: Roast chopped peppers with sweet potato, courgette and any other veg you have lurking in your fridge and use to top a tasty pastry tart.
Store it: While it’s tempting to keep them in the fridge, tomatoes are actually best stored at room temperature until they’re very ripe.
Save it: Make a simple chutney to keep handy in the fridge by simmering tomatoes and onions with balsamic vinegar and a pinch of brown sugar.
Serve it: Slice or roughly chop your tomatoes, tip into a bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Leave for 10 minutes or so, and the salt will work wonders at bringing the flavour out of your tomato salad. If you have any, you can make it taste even better by adding black pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar or fresh basil leaves before serving (it’ll be delicious piled on toasted crunchy bread!).
Store it: Keep avocados at room temperature, especially if they feel hard (ripe avocados will feel soft when you squeeze them).
Save it: Don't throw out the stone! If you’re only using half your avocado keep the stone in the other side and store it in the fridge to stop it going brown.
Serve it: Avocado is a delicious addition to salads or mashed into a dip with tortilla chips. Of course, avocado on toast has also become a brunch classic over recent years! Mash your avocado with lemon or lime juice, a little bit of oil and some salt and pepper. Spread over toast and top with a fried egg and, if you like, a pinch of chilli flakes.
Store it: Chillies should be kept in the vegetable drawer of your fridge. To make them last a little longer you can remove the stalks before chilling – simply tug them out by hand.
Save it: Using a needle and thread, carefully loop the chilli stalks together and leave to dry in a warm, dry place (a sunny windowsill would work well). Dried chillies should feel papery, and are delicious popped whole into stews or crumbled over meals as a garnish.
Serve it: Fry chopped chilli and garlic in plenty of oil for a couple of minutes and toss through cooked spaghetti. Top with a handful of green salad for a budget-friendly Italian meal!
More ideas to try: Add fresh chilli for extra kick to an Asian-inspired dressing, perfect for stir-fries or noodle salads.
Store it: Oranges can be kept in the fridge or stored at room temperature, just make sure they are dry and kept loose.
Save it: Grate the orange zest (taking care only to grate the orange layer and not the bitter white ‘pith’) squeeze out the juice. Mix together and freeze in ice lolly moulds or use an ice cube tray to make little lolly sweets!
Serve it: Add a wedge as a garnish for gin and tonic, or remove the skin from the segments and chop through a chicken salad with coriander and chilli.
More ideas to try: Use both the zest and juice of an orange to add moisture to a fruit cake.