Frugal Tip #2: Do Not Waste Food

January 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM 7 comments

If you cook at home fairly frequently you’ll find that isn’t too difficult to cook extra and learn to love leftovers. In fact, before long you’ll find yourself saving money and feeling much less stressed at dinnertime. While tip #1 helps you avoid fast food and restaurant bills, tip #2 ensures that you actually eat the food you prepared. The goal of tip #2 is to actually eat all the food you bring home from the store. In essence the goal is not to throw any food away.

If you’re really serious about not wasting food try to keep tabs of what you eat. You don’t have to write down every little morsel of food you eat but try to remember how many times you dragged that same green apple back and forth to your office. Write down how many times you intended to eat salad but never got around to it. You may think that you eat an apple a day but actually find out that you actually eat only one or two a week.

When you’re at the grocery store try to think hard about what you’re buying. Even if you’re in a hurry pause and think to yourself, “should I really buy lemons this week”, “will I really have time to make that new lemon chicken dish?” If you know your schedule will be packed to the brim stick with easy to cook foods that don’t require a lot of ingredients or require ingredients that won’t spoil.

Speaking of taking time at the store, take a second or two to look over the expiration dates of the foods you buy. I’m always amazed by shoppers who reach in and pull out the first gallon of milk they see. The difference in sell by dates can be more than a week.

If you find it really hard to eat all of the produce you bring home consider turning to frozen veggies. I always have frozen peas, corn, broccoli and spinach in the freezer. It lasts an amazingly long amount of time without spoiling. Best of all frozen veggies can often be added to soup and casseroles without even defrosting. If you aren’t specific about brands you can find a plethora of coupons for frozen veggies in the weekly newspaper. I’ve purchased bags and boxes of frozen vegetables for less than $1 after combining grocery store sales with Internet coupons.

If you decide to follow frugal tip #1 and end up looking forward to your leftovers you may need to purchase new containers to store them. I suggest purchasing clear, glass containers with reusable lids. Colored and/or tinted Tupperware is not a good solution for our family. More often than not when food is stored in opaque containers it ends up spoiled, moldy and rotten. I now stick primarily with clear containers so I can literally see exactly what I have left on hand. I prefer glass, because I think it’s better for us and the environment, but I’ll turn to clear plastic if I must.

Another trick is to spend 30 seconds digging through your fridge. If the leftover containers get stuck behind that gallon of milk and reusable water bottle you’ll never see them, which means you’ll never eat them. Every night before you go to bed move the containers back to the front of the fridge where they won’t get lost in the shuffle.

You may also want to take this time to dig through the vegetable bins. You can take notice of what you have on hand and what might spoil soon. My husband and I often create meals based on what produce is nearing it’s expiration date.

The goal of tip #2 is to spend just a few minutes a day thinking about what food you have on hand and what food you need to eat. It takes a lot of time and money to fill your fridge and pantry and it’s an absolute shame to watch it go to waste. If all of these steps seem overwhelming start small. Next time you grab a gallon of milk off the shelf stop and check expiration dates.

Entry filed under: food, frugality. Tags: .

Feeling Lucky Today Frugal Tip #3: Rethink the Way You Cook

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. moralia  |  January 28, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing! :) And I gotta agree about checking the expiration dates… if you buy something and it expires in a day, may as well just flush your $$ down the toilet! lol!

    Reply
  • 2. Sense  |  January 28, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    my real problem is that I'm such a bad cook that I HATE the food I make and it tastes really awful. I'm single and only cook for myself, so I end up with huge bowl fulls of food that I think tastes terrible! I always end up throwing it out because if I try to choke it down, I end up eating junk later because I don't fill up on it all the way.

    Reply
  • 3. Somerlyn  |  January 29, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    Great tips. I was actually trying to do this, this year. I was so tired of throwing out good food because of lack of planning on my part. I am also glan I'm not the only one who drags an apple around or intend on eating salad from the bag of mix and then not doing so. Many times I have seen that bag and think I better eat it only to find it's slim and only good for the compost pile.

    Reply
  • 4. Jenny  |  January 29, 2010 at 2:51 AM

    I find a good way not to waste food is to keep a list of what you have. I have a whiteboard on my fridge, and on it I keep a list of any leftovers that need to be eaten, produce, and meats that are defrosting or just bought and waiting to be cooked. I don't keep a complete list of everything in there though.

    On my freezer I have a list of everything that is in there, in rough categories such as raw meat, cooked meat, veg, bread, etc.

    This makes both meal planning and shopping planning easier, and food is much less likely to go to waste.

    I just use old sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc containers for leftovers. They are not clear, but they are free and easily stackable. You can also use a marker pen to label them to keep track of what is inside if you want to, but I don't usually bother.

    And about the expiry dates, I often don't bother to look, or more often actively choose one that expires sooner because I know I will use it before then. We go through a gallon of milk in less than a week, and I eat a tub of yogurt in 2-4 days, so I'll leave the stuff with longer expiry dates for people who use it slower.

    Reply
  • 5. One Frugal Girl  |  January 30, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    @Sense – Save up the money and take a cooking class. I was an awful cook until I started to feel more comfortable in the kitchen. Also, taste test all along the way. Add a pinch of something, then taste, then a little more, then taste, etc. If you taste as you go along you can usually stop yourself from cooking a disastrous dish.

    @Jenny – I like the idea of a list but I don't know if I'd actually keep up with it. I'm assuming you write the details down as items go into the fridge and scratch them off as items come out?

    Reply
  • 6. One Frugal Girl  |  January 30, 2010 at 11:25 PM

    @Somerlyn – If those mixed salads are turning brown too quickly start purchasing romaine instead and try this technique.

    Reply
  • 7. Carrville  |  February 3, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    I loved your tips so much that I've forwarded your blog site to all of my friends. Since you mentioned lemons I thought I would share this tip to avoid waste. If you have extra lemons or limes on hand and want to save them before they spoil, squeeze the juice into an ice-cube tray, then transfer the frozen juice cubes to a plastic bag where you can use them later to flavor drinks. Speaking of lemons I found a fun "all about lemons" site (http://www.buy-lemons-online.com/ ) which has "music for lemon lovers" which I got a kick out of. You can listen to clips of songs like "Lemon Tree" by Peter, Paul and Mary. Thanks again for all of the great tips.
    Looking forward to your next post.

    Reply

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