One bill that is always a challenge to tackle is the grocery bill. Food makes up a big part of all of our budgets. Switching to cooking at home, we rely on grocery costs to reduce our spending on daily meals. Once we do that and still need to free up some money to pay bills, we need to get creative on how we can maximize our budget. Here are some ways we can save money specifically by lowering our overall amount of food waste.
Repurpose Leftover Food
Leftovers are the quintessential approach to eliminating food waste. It is important that you eat the leftovers though. As George Carlin said: “Leftovers make you feel good twice.” The first time you feel thrifty for saving food. Then, a month later when you through it away, you feel smart for saving your life. Part of saving with leftovers is portion control, and not necessarily making the food with leftovers in mind. You may have a bit of unused food that doesn’t make a meal on its own. However, that doesn’t mean you have to throw it out. If you have extra scrambled eggs or vegetables, for instance, make fried rice the next day and toss them in for a cheap side dish.
Buy Only What You Plan To Use
The best way to eliminate waste is through proper planning. The more often you plan meals and only buy ingredients based on needs, you will have less waste as a result. You will also save money on nonessentials. As a result of not wasting money on filler, you will not ruin your appetite, and therefore be able to finish what you buy. Getting this down only takes a little bit of discipline, and then you can pretty much just run on momentum once you’ve started. Especially once you see the change in your grocery spending.
Pro tip: Use these Printable Meal Planning Template to plan ahead
Incorporate What You Have Into Future Meals
When you have food leftover, such as extra dry pasta, peanut butter, half a jar of salsa, etc. use what you have to inform your next meal plan. When you buy hotdogs and buns, the number is always disproportionate. You always have to go buy more of one so you can finish off the other. Creative use of either buns or hotdogs reveals this trap to be a fallacy, but the cycle is not necessarily a bad thing, when you open it up to creative ways of using what you have in your pantry or refrigerator at home. Prioritize any “unfinished business” and you will have much less waste, plus have a tidier kitchen.
Pro tip: I’ve absolutely loved pre-planning our meals using freezer meals. They’re simple and make life so much easier! They’re almost as easy as takeout! Here’s the program we use: MyFreezeasy and here’s a free workshop on how the freezer meal planning program works.
Keep Track of Your Food
Keeping a tidy kitchen is important to eliminating food waste and saving on your grocery bill. How many times have you purchased a bottle of dressing, or a block of cheese, only to discover you’ve had it hiding in the fridge and within date? Too many groceries make it harder to organize and therefore easy to forget what you have. Keep your stockpile manageable and keep regular inventory so that when you make your meal plans, you know what you can use at home and what you still need to go out for.
As a side not, consider the unit pricing on items you buy. The big value sized items may not be the best for your budget if you don’t plan to use all of the product. Sometimes it’s better to pay slightly more per oz. but less overall if you do not plan to use the product regularly over the long haul. If you regularly through out big jars of jelly or have a vat of mayo in the back of your fridge. It’s an indication that you will benefit from this change.
Incorporate More Multipurpose Foods in Your Diet
Some foods have properties that are benefitial in other areas, such as DIY cleaning, or beauty solutions. When you come across inexpensive foods that can be used for a variety of things it’s a good idea to incorporate them more into your meal plans so you can benefit from their little side gigs. According to Jillee at OneGoodThing.com, you can use banana peels to make a tea for insomnia. Broccoli stems can be used just as much as the florets can, so don’t throw them out after chopping them up. Either include them in your meal, or prep them for a side dish like a vegetable slaw.
Start Saving Scraps
Finally, start saving the scraps of produce that you normally throw out. skins and peels have a variety of uses outside of your prepared meal. They also contain nutrients that don’t have to go to waste. Citrus peels can be zested for use in vinaigrettes and other foods. Apple skins can be frozen and stored to make apple cider vinegar. Other stored vegetable scraps can be used to make vegetable or chicken stock at home! Every scrap you save and properly store is less food waste. Plus, it potentially saves you money on other purchases down the road.
What are your favorite ways to save money on food?