Vegetables are one of those things. We can survive without them, but life starts to look a little grim (and a little akin to life on the First Fleet) if we don’t get our five-a-day. So, while we’re looking after ourselves, the amount we spend on our vegetable shopping can skyrocket. Yet, with a bit of preparation, you can keep your wallet and your body healthy.
Know The Seasons
The idea of limited periods of time we’re we can purchase vegetables in an anathema to anyone who has grown up in a Coles and Woolworths universe. But if you can get across when vegetables are in season, you’ll not only eat a better quality of vegetable, you won’t be spending extra money on out-of-season products. On top of that, you won’t be paying for massive transportation costs for vegetables that have been flown in, and you can kiss your guilty environmental conscience goodbye. Right now, we should be buying tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants and cucumbers. Come winter, we move into beetroots, parsnips, spinach and potato. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be relieved to hear that avocados are good to eat in summer and winter.
When I was living in Sydney, every Saturday morning we would head to the Orange Grove Farmers Markets. Beautiful, fresh produce coming straight from the producer. Similar schemes are everywhere, once you start looking. Or get some initiative and approach some of the local producers; they might be willing to give you some of the insect or weather-damaged fruit at a cheaper price. The same goes for your local fruit and veggie shop- they’re always more than willing to sell slightly damaged fruit at a cheaper price than not sell it at all and, let’s face it, it all tastes the same.
Gardening is like the new home renovation. Everyone is doing it. And it’s not just about getting your japanese rock garden to look pretty or planting the very latest in hanging plants, it’s about providing a large part of our vegetable intake from our own gardens. Tomatoes are generally the first port-of-call, with herbs another popular favourite. The benefits are obvious. With the initial outlay of money out of the way, you’ll be saving a significant amount of money if things go your way. You can also be assured of the quality of the vegetables and rest easily in the knowledge nothing harmful has been used on them. The downside is, of course, that you will enter a war with snails and other insects. Frost becomes your worst enemy and heavy rain sure to make you glum. To mitigate this, investigate some of the non-toxic ways to protect your plants or use your balcony as a milder environment for things to grow.
Use And Reuse
Waste is costly. Use everything in your fridge before replacing it. Plan out your weekly menu, and avoid the shops between times. Not only will you save on your initial outlay, you’ll also be less likely to be throwing things out. Any waste from the plate, or peeled skins, can be used as the oldest and best fertiliser.