Would you like some tips, as a parent, to reduce your food waste when shopping and eating out with your kids? Stop Food Waste.ie brings you some practical tips for parents to help reduce food waste this month on the topic of lettuce!
As much as 50% of the lettuce we buy ends up in the bin
As the weather warms up, and thoughts turn to the idea of BBQs and salads, the EPA’s Stop Food Waste programme reminds you that as much as 50% of the lettuce we buy ends up in the bin! How often have you bought a bag of lettuce, used half of it, put the rest back in the fridge, and a week later dumped the unused lettuce which is now gone bad?
You can help prolong the life of lettuce in your fridge by taking it out of the plastic packaging and putting it in a colander with a bit of water in it and hey presto, it’ll remain fresher for longer.
However, why not try growing your own to help you make the most of your greens and save money while doing so?
Growing your own salad
Bags of salad leaves are expensive to buy in supermarkets and because they’re washed and ready to eat, they have a short lifespan in the fridge. By growing your own, you can pick as much of it as you need for each meal.
Most varieties of lettuce are easy to grow and can be sown anytime between spring and summer. Apart from traditional lettuces, such as ‘Cos’, ‘Iceberg’ and ‘Butterhead’, there are many others to try, including loose-leaf types and oak leaf lettuce, radicchio, rocket and endive.
If you go to the trouble of growing your own greens, watching them grow and carefully tending to them you will naturally appreciate them much more when it comes to eating them. There is nothing like being able to enjoy the distinct flavour of fresh lettuce from your garden and knowing you’ll always have an easy and healthy side dish at the ready!
You don’t need a large garden
You don’t need that much space to grow a few heads of lettuce, rocket or herbs, even a window box would do where space is limited. You can start the window box indoors and once the first few shoots start coming up you can put it outside on a sunny sill, making sure you keep them watered.
What kinds of salad you grow depends on how much space you have and whether you like sharp, peppery leaves like rocket, or mild ones like Romaine or butterhead. Most seed companies offer mixed selections, so you can have a go at growing a little of several varieties. If you sow a few seeds every few weeks between now and August, you’ll have a continuous supply right through until autumn.
To avoid wasting lettuce, don’t harvest the lettuce until you are ready to use it and don’t pull the whole lettuce out in one go – just cut the leaves you want to eat and more will grow back!
Here are some types of salad greens you might consider growing:
Butterhead – This is the classic lettuce seen in kitchen gardens. It is a round lettuce with soft, loosely packed, green leaves and may not always have a heart. It is rather bland in flavour.
Iceberg – The dense heads of pale green leaves are used in mixed salads and side salads. It has less flavour than other types of lettuce but it requires little preparation and will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. It is commonly used in kitchens and has excellent texture qualities.
Lollo Rosso – leaves are frilled with a dark red edge, which makes it very attractive in salads.
Oakleaf – falls into the general category of salad bowl types. As the name suggests it has a leaf which is shaped like the leaf of an oak tree. It produces a large loose head of lettuce which does not have a great shelf life but is perfect for cutting what you need and leaving the rest to grow.
Cos/Romaine – a tall lettuce with crunchy leaves and a distinctive flavour, the star of Caesar salad.
Rocket – has a wonderful peppery flavour that is excellent in a mixed green salad. It has small, bright green, dandelion shaped leaves.
For more information on this and other aspects of food waste prevention go to www.stopfoodwaste.ie
If you have any other tips for meal planning, let us know in the comments below.
Did you like this article? Sign up for our free newsletter (be sure to tick Food!) and join us on facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest