We all know that eating vegetables has a plethora of health benefits yet most of us don’t eat enough of them! So how do you get more into your daily meal and get the most out of them?
This year, as part of nutrition week, Nutrition Australia’s Try for 5 campaign’s call for action is to get more green into our meals by getting the most out of our fruit and vegetables.
Australians are not eating enough vegetables with less than 9% of adults and children eating the number of serves recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines. (ABS National Health Survey 2020-21). There is a well-established link between increased intake of fruit and vegetables and improved health outcomes. Diets rich in fruit and vegetables have been shown to protect against high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. However, ongoing COVID disruption and rising costs of living has put even more pressure on our household budgets and diets.
If you want to continue to eat fresh vegetables and fruit daily and get healthy greens into every snack and meal, then take a read below. These simple tips keep your fruit and vegetables fresh for longer, offer ways to use up every bit of them while making sure they remain a cost efficient food that stays on your shopping list and used in every meal for maximum health benefits.
Plan to waste less by buying only what you need
Preparation is the key to success. Meal planning and making a shopping list before you head out to the growers market or local supermarket helps you to only buy what you need. Check recipes and look through the fridge and pantry to see what you already have before the shop. Source new recipes with vegetables that offer exciting new flavours and get you excited about cooking more greens.
When shopping, buying produce in season and looking for discounts helps the pocket. Sometime there is value in buying a larger quantity which you can either freeze or bottle for later or why not spit the product with a neighbour or friend – less cost and waste!
Imperfect buys have become popular over the last few years and there is a reason why – there is nothing wrong with them! Not only does buying imperfect vegetables and fruit cost less but it brings huge benefits to Australian farmers also. Remember too that frozen and canned vegetables still hold many nutritional benefits – in a convenient and cost-efficient manner.
Storing vegetables right makes them last longer, reduces food waste and saves you money. 41% of consumers said that their vegetable consumption is impacted by the ‘short shelf life of veg’ according to Nutrition Australia, so it seems many of us need a lesson on best storage! We love the below chart thanks to Tryfor5. You can download it on their website along with other tips. A few essential correct storing tips include setting your fridge at 4 degrees Celsius, storing your veg in containers with some paper towel and putting the roots of your vegetables in water.
Use all of the fruit vegetable – root to stem, seeds and all!
Majority of Australia’s food waste comes from Australian households. Wash your vegetables and fruit well and then use as much of them as possible. Even ageing fruit can be used if you get creative. Use the last of your vegetables to make a soup or sauce, or make vegetable stock with all the bits you often throw out like skins and ends. Ripe fruit or left over greens can be used in a smoothie (including the pips). If you know you won’t be using some of your fruit or vegetable before they age cut them up and freeze them for future use.
Love your leftovers
Meals that haven’t been eaten don’t need to be be binned There are so many interesting and tasty ways to use leftovers and make the most out of veggies. Why not toss the vegetables from dinner in an omelette for breakfast or pack leftover meals for lunch on the go. And what about the last bits of chopped herbs you forgot to throw into the soup or the final carrot? Add herbs to a green smoothie or keep it for eggs the next day. Chop up carrots and celery for dips or add your final few vegetables into a stir fry. Just because they don’t work with recipes you know, get creative so there is no waste before you head out for the next shop.
Grow your own
Growing your own vegetables is easier than ever with innovative new tools – get the family involved too! There is a sense of accomplishment and excitement around growing herbs and vegetables picked and eaten on the same day at no cost! Find some starter tips here.
Written by Lisa McLean. Information sourced from Nutrition Australia – National Nutrition Week 2022
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