According to Statistic New Zealand, fruit and vegetable prices rose 4.2 per cent in the month of April. This rise in the price on fresh produce puts pressure on the wallet and families struggling to make ends meet. Our columnist Lydia Harvey has some tips to eating healthy food without bursting the budget this winter.
As autumn comes to an end and winter nips at our heels, we find ourselves eating what we know will be many lasts for the season - corn, tomatoes, strawberries and passion fruit are now a distant memory.
Winter is a time for comfort foods and it's time to rely heavily on what we have stored away for the bulk part of the year, including canned tomatoes, bottled fruits, walnuts, onions and even apples dried and hung to be eaten at a later date.
But for those who are yet to plant a garden or grow herbs on the windowsill there are some small steps you can do to make big changes financially, environmentally and for your health. These tips will also help save money in the winter as the price of healthy food increases.
There is still so much goodness to be had even in the depths of winter. Kumara, pumpkin, carrots and brassicas are at their peak in winter and are great for roasts and soups.
Bulk up your meals
Split peas, lentils, brown rice and other pantry staples such as pasta make your meals go a long way and they're relatively cheap to buy.
Use your left overs
Anything from boiling down your raw vegetable scraps, making your own stock, to using part of your meat leftovers for soup are all ways of creating more meals and reducing your food waste.
Last night's dinner can be used for lunch or reinvented with some pastry or fresh vegetables for the next night's dinner.
Invest in a crock pot (even a second hand one)
This wins on all levels. Not only is dinner made when you not at home, but you can actually get away with buying the absolute cheapest cuts of meat and veg and make nourishing meals.
Food still grows in winter so get planting
It's never too late to plant the first seed, plant or tree just check out what types of plants grow in winter.
In just a couple of short weeks I've planted and grown chilies behind my fireplace.
From Lydia's Garden: Silver beet Dal
It's wet and cold outside so it’s time for some good winter warming goodness. This week Lydia's shared her favourite dish for winter that only uses one pot to make.
3 tbsp of Olive oil
1 tsp each of cumin seeds, mustard seeds and turmeric
1 finely diced onion
2 crushed chillis
4 large cloves of crushed ginger
¼ tsp of crushed cayenne
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of soaked and rinsed yellow split peas
3 cups of vegetable stock
3 cups of silver beet or spinach leaves
In a cast iron frying pan put in you olive oil, cumin, mustard seeds and turmeric, onion, garlic, ginger and cayenne and cook on a low heat.
Once the onion is transparent add the tomatoes, peas and vegetable stock.
Bring to the boil on a low heat until the peas are cooked through. Stir occasionally and top up with more liquid if needed.
About 20 minutes before serving add the silver beet or spinach.
Serve with garlic naan or basmati rice.