In case you missed it, you can read this post to see what this series is all about.
There are several ways to save on your grocery budget (of course the first being to actually have a grocery budget!) but aside from using coupons and meal planning another one of the bigger ways to save it to reduce/eliminate food waste. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. You just grabbed a great deal on strawberries and two days later, they are a big moldy mush because you forgot about them. Or you go to grab a can of something and find out it expired months ago.
Here are some of the ways I have compiled to help reduce/eliminate food waste:
1) Rotate your food stock – Make sure that you always have your oldest canned goods up front and try to use them first. I’ve even set aside an area in my pantry where I grab all food that will expire within a few weeks and put it there so I can be sure to work it into my weekly meal plan.
2) Hang a dry-erase board on your fridge and jot down food items that you should use first, your “don’t forgets” such as those strawberries that you bought.
3) Instead of buying all your produce at once, make bi-weekly produce trips to the store. Since the produce is sold towards the front, you can easily run in and grab the few items you need without risking too many chances at food impulse buys. When you go to make your grocery list from your weekly meal plan, jot down the produce that could wait a few days before purchasing and keep that list separate so you won’t have to remember later.
4) Keep a designated area in your fridge for the “use first” food. This could include leftovers, dairy/produce items that are soon expiring, etc. Try to work those into a meal during the week.
5) Try to have one night a week where you use leftovers. If your family isn’t one to like a meal a second time, try to make meals where you can easily freeze the leftovers for a quick lunch later or even another meal later on.
6) Go through your pantry quarterly (or even monthly!) to be sure that you don’t have food go past its expiration date.
7) Set limits to open snacks/cereals. Instead of having 5-6 boxes open at once, set a limit of 3 cereal boxes open at a time. Make it a rule that a new box can’t be opened until those are gone. Do something similar with snacks. An easy tip: Only keep a few bag clips and set a rule that a bag of chips (etc) can’t be opened if there’s no available bag clip.
8) Make sure you work all “soon expireds” from your pantry and fridge into your weekly meal plan. Check your “don’t forget” list on the fridge, too!
9) Invest in Produce Savers to extend the life of your produce. And make sure you are using a high enough quality freezer bag/container to avoid freezer burn. If you only use a partial bag of a frozen item, make sure it’s sealed properly or store it in a freezer safe container with a label.
10) Set a “food waste charge” for family members to encourage that they reduce the amount of food waste at meal/snack times. This will help them learn portion control, as well. Keep the money you collect in a separate little bank and use that same money to reward kids when they’ve gone longer periods of time without wasting food.
I’m hoping that these tips will help you reduce the amount of food waste and help you make the most of your grocery budget! In what way do you try to reduce/eliminate food waste.
Stay tuned for another day of brainstorming on another stresser! The series is almost done!! In case you missed them, you can check the recap to see what I’ve posted already.