Banana beauty masks and vinegar bug spray: How to use expired food around the house

Fruit, veg and condiments can still have a life after the fridge

Place garlic or herbs such as basil, lavender and rosemary in your flowerbeds as a natural bug repellant. Getty Images / Cavan Images RF
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Wasting food is an expensive proposition – both for the planet and for your pocket.

Expiry dates on perishable items exist as an indicator of quality. While significant, it doesn’t mean food must be thrown away immediately upon hitting this date as there’s often still a lot of life left in it. Even if it’s not suitable for consumption, the produce we have in our kitchen could still be put to good use.

Here are some handy hacks.

Beautify with yoghurt, bananas and avocados

Banana peel can be mixed with water to create a thick paste in lieu of store-bought beauty masks. Getty Images

Think twice before chucking out any expired Greek yoghurt as the lactic acid it contains makes for an ideal exfoliating mask, removing any dead cells when applied to the body. Just mix in some honey before applying and rinse with warm water for brighter-looking skin.

And why stop there? Greek yoghurt isn’t the only expired food you can use for home-made beauty treatments. “Ripe banana peels can provide a nourishing boost for your skin,” says Sophie Trueman, managing director at Too Good To Go, an app tackling food waste. She tells The National you can rub the inside of the peel on your skin, or even blend it with water to create a thick mask.

“It works as the high potassium levels in the peels hydrate and moisturise skin, while the vitamin A makes your complexion appear brighter,” she says.

Avocados tend to ripen quickly, often before we have chance to eat them, which becomes a lot less frustrating when you know how to make a hair product that’ll give you soft, shiny and stronger locks. An avocado’s natural oils, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants help unclog any blocked follicles, giving you a thicker mane. Make a smooth paste with coconut oil and an egg then apply to your hair and leave for 20 minutes before washing as normal.

Clean with mayo, lemons and vinegar

Past-its-prime vinegar can be used to clean fixtures and soften clothes. iStockphoto

Mayonnaise may well be the most versatile DIY condiment out there. A generous serving placed over the top of an oily soap helps fill in any scuffs and scratches to your flooring. Plus, past-its-best mayo will also remove any watermarks and stains left on countertops, not to mention leaving stainless steel appliances spotless with only a thin coat.

When it comes to household cleaning, mayonnaise isn’t the only perished product that’s useful. Old lemons, and expired lemon juice in particular, shouldn’t be discarded as waste when they possess cleaning properties that’ll leave your house looking brand new. As lemon juice ages the citric acid acts as a natural cleanser making it suitable for dissolving stains, dirt and grime. You can also refresh your bathroom by using it to tackle limescale. A past-its-best lemon can also be squeezed into water for a versatile solution to mopping floors and cleaning tiles.

Similarly, out-of-date vinegar shouldn’t be thrown away as it’s still handy to use around the house. Like lemon juice, it can be used for cleaning fixtures and fittings, but its effectiveness also extends to the laundry room. Adding a splash to your washing will help soften clothes while acting as an eco-friendly fabric freshener.

Oranges and limes make for aromatic potpourri. Getty Images

Fruit and veg is one of the biggest victims of food waste, when it can still be put to good use. Those with children will be glad to know berries, plums, beets and onions can all be boiled and used as a dye to revive old clothing.

Should you still have expired fruit left over, especially zesty varieties such as oranges and limes, why not dry them and make you own potpourri?

Garden with garlic and eggs

Use eggs, peels, tea and coffee to make compost. Getty Images

It’s not just inside the home where old vinegar proves valuable, either. A home-made mix, made with water and soap, will give you an effective bug spray that’ll keep pests out of your garden thanks to the odour, without harming your plants.

Don’t forget to utilise dated herbs and spices, too, when creating home-made pest control solutions. Placing basil, lavender, rosemary and garlic in your flower beds will stop bugs getting at your plants.

Also out in the garden, shells from out-of-date eggs can be used, along with decaying vegetable skins, tea and coffee to make compost.

Waste not

Globally, it’s estimated that a third of all food ends up being wasted, whether it’s unsold items dumped by supermarkets or goods that have been in our fridge too long at home.

Wasting food costs the economy over $1.2 trillion a year, and contributes 10 per cent of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but a shift in behaviour is helping to combat the issue, according to Trueman.

“Consumers are being savvier about food saving, many households now understand the implications of food waste and how it plays a bigger part in affecting climate change, and so many consumers are changing their habits in food consumption, which is a positive step,” says Trueman.

Updated: September 07, 2023, 3:59 AM