As the cost-of-living crisis continues to tighten belts this autumn, people all over Ireland are always on the lookout for ways to save.
We’ve been encouraged to be ‘clever with energy’, to wear warmer clothes and even offered a ‘chillcount’ if we’re willing to eat out eat out without the heating – but there’s one easy way to save that is good for you and the environment.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, reporter Sarah Madden found out how to cut down on your food bill without sacrificing on taste or nutrition.
She began by speaking to Newstalk consumer expert - and seasonal cooking pro - Sinéad Ryan.
“It’s really only in the last 30 to 40 years that people bought items that were non-seasonal,” said Sinéad.
“I have noticed, certainly, that fruit, veg and dairy products have absolutely rocketed in price.
“I have personally decided not to buy food anymore that has air miles on it because of the energy crisis. This is because all the suppliers and growers and importers and all the air miles that have to be paid for have gone up enormously.”
Deciding to eat in season is one thing, but where do you start? Sarah got the low down from dietitian Orla Walsh who told her is really important to tune into the natural seasonal calendar.
Here’s just some of the fruit and veg that is in season right now:
- Rooster potatoes
- Bok choy
She warned that just because something is grown locally doesn’t mean it is in season.
“There could be heated tunnels, there could be all sorts of things used to try and produce that food locally,” she said.
Ms Walsh warned that the cost of growing fruit and veg out of season could quickly negate any savings gained from buying locally grown produce.
She said seasonal produce is also much healthier.
“Nutritionally speaking, in season, local produce is often healthier simply because there is less of a time delay from farm to fork,” she said.
“We lose nutrients - for example folic acid or folate, as well as Vitamin C - through oxidation, humidity and temperature so, from a micro-nutrient point of view, this is important because it’s one of the reasons we eat them.”
Ms Walsh said seasonal eating is also better for the environment.
“The environmental cost of eating fruit and veg out of season negates the benefit, nearly, of eating plants for environmental reasons,” she said.
“The other benefit is, if you’re feeding a family, in season veg will taste better and be more consistent.
“So, for example, if people have young kids and children are eating the plant and it doesn’t taste nice at that time because it’s out of season or has travelled across the world to get to your plate, they might go off that plant for good.”
As a final tip, Ms Walsh said seasonal food that is cooked now can always be frozen for later in the winter.
You can listen back here: