Food waste Friday and dustbin demon

Filed in Blog by on March 19, 2010 14 Comments
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Lettuce leaves hot, lettuce leaves cold, lettuce leaves in the fridge ten days old.

Lettuce leaves hot, lettuce leaves cold, lettuce leaves in the fridge ten days old.

Thanks to a bit of quick thinking, I managed to save us from any food waste this week.

I want to share this piece of advise with you however, as I know many people struggle to use up salad leaves before they wilt.

I remember standing in the fresh fruit and veg aisle of the supermarket last summer listening to a couple of friends talking. These were women in their fifties who were rummaging through the pillow packs of mixed salad leaves. One remarked to the other that she could never finish the bags before they went off.

The other reassured her that it didn’t matter; she bought these knowing full well she would only eat half and the rest she threw away.

I figured if they bought one salad bag a week and threw away half, they were chucking ยฃ36 a year in the bin.

If only they’d asked Mrs Green for advise!

Yes, ladies and Gentlemen I have to answer to wasted salad. I can help you to save over ยฃ30 and I can help you keep food in your bellies and out of the landfill which means your budget will stretch further.

What’s not to love!?

See the lettuce leaves in this photo? They are ten days old.

Did I preserve them in formaldehyde, spray them with toxic chemicals or lovingly talk to my lettuce, thus giving it a reason to live?

No, I simply separated the leaves when I got them home and put them into a container of water. That container was kept in the fridge and voila! No wilting salad, even after ten days.

So there you have it – it’s not rocket science and it will save you some blood, sweat and tears when you no longer have to pull out green, slimy, smelly lettuce leaves from the back of the salad crisper.

Sometimes the simple things in life are the most effective.

Our dustbin demon for this week is the top from a bottle of juice. Little Miss Green couldn’t resist the delights of a locally pressed pure fruit juice – Raspberry and apple juice from Hilter Fruit Farm no less. She grabbed it off the shelf, I was thinking of 101 other things, the product ticked all the boxes – free from chemical rubbish, local, in a glass bottle, but I failed to notice the shiny seal around the top. I don’t know what it’s made from yet, it looks like thick foil, but I shall be contacting them to find out. The lid is plastic too – **sigh**; so I’ll be suggesting they change their packaging.

What about you? Have you found a cunning way to extend the life of food in order to prevent food waste? Tell all in the comments below!

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (14)

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  1. I usually sit my head of lettuce in a bowl of water in the fridge and then every 3/4 days take a sliver off the root section, this is emersed in the water.

    This seems to keep it really fresh as well for easily over a week.

    Same but different Mrs G!!

  2. sandy says:

    thanks for the tip, there was a lettuce in our veg box this week. just of to deal with it now

  3. Ben says:

    I really like salad, but my problem is where to buy salad that’s not wrapped in plastic film or bags? All of which I’ve seen so far are non-recyclable too. Those plastic bags are still one of my big packaging waste sources because I eat so much of it.

  4. Alyson says:

    @Ben: I agree. I haven’t been able to buy a cucumber for months.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: You know what they say about great minds, Maisie ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @sandy: You’re welcome Sandy; let me know if this works for you.

    @Ben: It’s not easy is it? We’re lucky in that we have two organic farm shops and they use polythene bags which we can recycle. During the summer we grow our own – is this an option for you? We grew watercress (grew like a weed) and cut and come again salad leaves (not seeded all over the garden!). Perhaps a windowbox would have been a better idea!

    @Alyson: Cucumbers are notoriously difficult to find without packaging. I found them in the Co-Op but only in some of the stores **sigh**

  6. Ben says:

    @Mrs Green: I’ve not yet seen any salad in polythene bags, only the hard crispy plastic that can’t be recycled, but will be keeping an eye out for it now you’ve mentioned it.

    As for growing my own, I do have a garden, so will give that a try. How exactly does it work, can I plant the seeds directly in the soil and wait for salad to appear, or is there more to it?

  7. Jane says:

    Rocket is really easy to grow – in fact it usually grows itself!

  8. Poppy says:

    @Ben:

    Slugs and snails Ben!! I try to grow some mixed leaves in a hanging basket out of their reach. A couple of years ago it was very successful, but last year was a bit slow. I’ll try again ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Jane says:

    Plastic collars (see Mrs Green’s vid) + nighttime torch hunts for slugs and snails work well!

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Ben: Ben, I’ve only seen this sort of salad in a farm shop, not in a supermarket. Do you have a local farmers market? The other option might be Sainsburys organic range which comes in compostable bags.

    Regarding salad, yes you can plant direct into the soil (as long as it’s not clay like ours ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Otherwise try it in pots or tubs. But you plant it in situ – no need to transplant. And remember to plant in succession otherwise you’ll end up with far too much at once and it will bolt or go past its best before you get to enjoy it.

    The easiest for a beginner is cut and come again salad leaves; you can buy a variety or mixed leaves; Mr G likes the spicier mixes. Rocket, as Jane says (but if it goes past its peak, it gets woody). Watercress is amazingly easy as long as you water it well. Radishes are cool to grow – seed to mouth in 6 weeks! Another tip is to start small; don’t get carried away – better to grow one or two things with success than overwhelm yourself and lose the crop ๐Ÿ™‚ Another great thing to grow indoors if you like it is sprouted seeds. We also grow a lot of herbs for adding interest to salad such as basil, parsley, marjoram, mint …

  11. Diz says:

    when I buy a lettuce I wrap it in a soft cotton teatowel, then put it back into the (inevitable) plastic carrier bag – can keep for 2 weeks in the bottom of the fridge. Bramleys in Dursley sell unwrapped cucumbers, so maybe local greengrocers for such things?

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Diz: I’ve never heard of the tea towel trick before Diz – thank you! I’ll try it and see if it works for me too ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Ruthy says:

    When you have peppers left in the firdge, that you just know you havent got the chance to use and are close to going off, chop them up (deseed of course) DO NOT RINSE WITH WATER(the flesh takes in the water and becomes soggy when defrosted).Bag it and freeze till needed. Just leave it to difrost and cook. The pepper doesnt hold its crispness but if you use it is stews ad curries etc it goes soft anyway!

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Ruthy: Thanks Ruthy; freezing is an excellent idea and something I often forget to make the most of…

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