The price of food has continued to increase over the recent months, factoring that in with the unbelievable coming rise of your energy and fuel costs, things are going to become even more difficult as 2022 progresses, so here's one option of a way to help keep your food prices as low as possible.
How often do you have leftover pieces of food from your food preparation? Cutting veggies or fruit and discarding pieces, such as stalks, end pieces of tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries etc.? You don't need to just throw them away; you could re-grow them and keep yourself in fresh fruit and veggies for weeks!
It doesn't matter whether you have an allotment, a big or small garden, perhaps only a balcony or a window sill, you can still grow delicious food from your scraps, so now may be the time, to have a root through your fridge to see what could be feeding you this Summer... for free!
Many of the fruit and veggies you buy from the supermarket contain seeds or a root, so you already have everything you need to start growing your own food! Don't believe silly stories about the seeds in supermarket fruit and veg not being able to be used to grow new plants, on the main, that's absolute twaddle, 99% of the seeds will grow, it just might not like quite as good as the shop-bought variety, but will still taste fantastic!
Take the humble tomato or strawberry; these taste fantastic and contain dozens of seeds ready to be planted to keep you supplied with fresh produce! You can simply remove a few of the seeds, place them on a damp kitchen towel, or they can be popped into a container of soil, and if kept moist, you can expect to start seeing plant growth in a couple of weeks. Once they have become more established and the plants are big enough to handle, pop them into a container and keep them in a warm and sunny place, and keep the soil moist. Then over the weeks heading into Summer, you can expect to start seeing larger plants, with flowers appearing, which will then turn into tomatoes/strawberries, and once ripe, these are all yours to enjoy!
The cost is small, possibly zero, to be more self-sufficient, and you could grow them on a window sill or balcony, no garden required!
Each plant could produce several kilos of fruit to enjoy, which saves you money, gives you the freshest possible produce, and is a super way to use food scraps! It's also a really good experiment for the kids; they will love to watch the seeds grown from scraps to flourishing plants!
You can try this with all sorts of different food items, such as raspberries, broad and runner beans, plums and even apples and pears. However, expect a much longer wait for the latter, it takes several years for the fruit to establish, but you never know, you could end up with an orchard just by planting an old apple core!
One of my favourite things to grow is sweetcorn, which is simple as well. I take a few kernels of corn from uncooked corn on the cob and allow them to dry out a little. I then add a few of these kernels to a couple of large pots, spaced well, and water them, keeping them in a warm and sunny place. After a few weeks, you will see plants developing and as Summer carries on, the plants will grow tall and robust, and as long as you have a reasonable number of plants nearby (at least 12 or so), they will pollinate each other, and new cobs of corn will develop. You should get between 2 and 3 cobs per plant. Be aware that these get pretty tall and bulky, so this is better suited for outside growing!
I tend to take a few cobs from my 'crop' and dry them out for a few weeks, and then remove the dried kernels from the cobs, and bag them ready for next year's growing that way, those few kernels I saved earlier in the year, keep producing homemade produce for potentially years to come, and this general technique, can be used for most of the other produce I grow as well!
Onions, Garlic, Leeks and Shallots
Carrots, Turnips, Parsnips, Beetroot and Other Root Crops
Lettuce, Bok Choi and Other Leafy Greens
Basil, Mint, Coriander, Parsley & Other Herbs
Root vegetables that don't have seeds can also be rescued for food growing use. Cut the top off veggies such as carrots, parsnips etc. and pop them into a shallow bowl of water, and after a few days, you should find they are starting to grow new green shoots.
Once they have grown to a fair few inches in height, these can then be transplanted into the ground or pots, and they will grow into new veggies, ready to eat!
Potatoes and sweet potatoes can be re-used too. Find any potatoes with eyes on them, and take off that chunk or peeling and pop them on the window sill to dry out, and the eyes will start to shoot. Once they are an inch or so in length, pop them into the ground or a deep pot, and cover them with soil. Once they grow taller, keep covering the new shoots with more soil, and repeat the process until they become large plants and too large to keep covered. After a couple of months, you should find you can harvest your spuds, and they should be lovely and creamy; I love them when I take them from ground to saucepan, to plate, in less than half an hour, as they taste fantastic!
Celery and spring onions roots can be popped into a jam jar with water, and they will start to grow shoots, which you can snip off and use when you fancy, or you can let them get more extensive and then transplant them into soil and grow them into full-sized plants. The same will work with lettuces and herbs as well.
Using up scraps of food you already have is an economical way to reduce your food costs. It's not instant, but with a bit of planning, you can save some money on produce, which is a massive achievement!
I've used the regrow method since the first lockdown when I was worried about the availability of fresh food and produce, and it's something that I've carried on doing.
You can, of course, buy seeds and grow your own that way; you can pick up cheap packs of seeds from the bargain stores on the high street for far less than a pound, but if you have seeds in the food in your fridge,,, why bother? It seems like a waste to throw out the seeds you already have and have paid for! I particularly like to use the seeds from yellow sticker fruit and vegetable purchases, as it has gives that smug feeling of getting an even better bargain, as you get to reuse that yellow sticker bargain, over and over again, and it doesn't get more food waste friendly than that!