Nothing looks sadder than a couple of lonely carrots, half a green pepper or some slightly less crunchy celery left in the fridge. The temptation to ditch is great - but RESIST!
To avoid throwing out vegetables that are still good, even if they are not quite as fresh as they once were, consider turning them into a casserole or hot pot. This is a great way to use up leftover veg.
If you have a slow cooker, you can throw everything in at once and leave it to cook itself while you are out or at work. This can be very cost-effective. However, for people without one of these, creating a casserole can traditionally mean using up a lot of gas or electricity. I therefore created this 30-minute bake as good way of part-roasting the food before turning it into a casserole, so the flavouring is still strong and the vegetables are soft while the meat is well cooked within 25-30 minutes. It might not be traditional, but it is cheap, easy to make, and can be very filling.
Vegetarians can pack out the ingredients by adding two cups of lentils, which will bulk up the dinner so that it is filling. Simply soften the lentils first by boiling for a few minutes in water before adding them to the vegetables. Obviously the vegetable version costs less than the meat version, but for the meat-lovers, here's my recipe for a basic sausage casserole (serves four).
You will need:
1 pack of sausages. I used Tesco's British Butcher's Cumberland Sausages for £1.50 but you can get cheaper versions. I often buy on a deal and freeze them; defrost them thoroughly before cooking.
2 Parsnips (or Bell Peppers, Cabbage, Peas, etc)
4 Celery sticks (I buy a whole head/stalk of celery as it lasts longer than pre-cut packaged ones, and it goes further for less money)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 brown onion
Some seasoning - basic/value stock cube, pepper, salt, oregano (I have a huge bag of this from the Greek relatives).
A dash or two of olive oil
Chop the onion roughly - leave it chunky - and put into a Pyrex or other oven dish with the olive oil. Clean and chop the celery, and add it to the onion.
Clean and cut the carrots and parsnips into thin dials and add to the celery and onion.
Chop up each sausage into half. Add these to the dish.
Add the seasoning.
Put into the oven for about 15 minutes on a 160 heat, so the meat starts to cook and the vegetables start to roast.
After 15 minutes, take out, add the tin of chopped tomatoes, and stir thoroughly. Add two-three tablespoons of water to the mixture, to make sure it is moist and covering all the other ingredients.
Put in for a further 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven, until the sausages are cooked through.
Serve, and enjoy!