Start Saving Right Now #3: Don’t let food go to waste.

garbage

One of the easiest things to do to be a good steward of your grocery money is to not let food go to waste. No coupon clipping or trip stragegizing involved here.  If everything you cook and buy gets eaten you will save tons.  It is harder to quantify your savings on this one, but I would say that most families throw out about 1/3 of the food they purchase.

Most food goes to waste because:

1)It goes bad before it was used.

2)More was served than the person could eat.

3)People do not eat their left overs.

Putting it simply, if you actually used those groceries you would have a 1/3 savings because you would be eating that food rather than purchasing new because it went to waste.  This is something we are not perfect at, but have gotten much better at remembering.  Because we have slowly changed over to cooking from scratch when possible, (rather than eating out or making overly processsed foods) our leftovers are also a lot more appealing.

Things that will help you make use of all of your food:

  • Put leftovers or prepared food in clear containers so that you can easily see what you have.
  • Cook meals that can “roll” from one meal into the next by leaving simple ingredients separate in your fridge after cooking.  You can then easily turn last nights leftover ingredients into tonight’s new meal by serving it a little differently. (More on how we do this to come.)
  • Watch out for those “bins if death” that can be the place product goes to die.  Know what is in them and keep them clean so that you are eating all of your fruits, vegis, and herbs before they go bad.
  • If you see or know that something might go bad before you can eat it, throw it in the freezer. Most foods can be frozen to preserve them.  This works well with most fruits and vegis if (some need to be cleaned and cubed), bread, leftovers, soups, meat, deli meat, tortillas, grated cheese, cookies, …almost everything.
  • If you make a big casserole that seems like more than your family will happily eat before it goes bad put some of it in a small pan and freeze it unbaked.  We often do this with macaroni, stuffed shells, enchiladas, etc.  We do all the preparation and often make a little extra and put 2/3rds in a big pan and bake it, and put the other 1/3 in a separate smaller pan and freeze it unbaked to eat later. (When I am taking about cooking and say “we” I am almost always referring to my husband.  He is a wonderful cook and does most of it at our house:)
  • Keep things closed tightly in your pantry.  I love these cheap little clips from Ikea to keep things from going stale…bought them on a whim and LOVE them.
  • Keep all your open containers of food in your pantry together so that you eat the old stuff before opening new boxes and bags.
  • Rotate stuff to the front of the fridge and freezer that needs to be eaten first.
  • Make a list on the front of the fridge for your older family members with ideas of meals and snacks (so you have some help eating the things that won’t last long).
  • Serve your younger eaters their meals in “courses” so that aren’t overwhelmed with their choices and just pick their favorites out and leave the rest.

Be resourceful to see if you can use everything you purchase without letting it go to waste.

Hint-When you buy natural foods (which should be preservative free) they will expire and mold much more quickly.   Unless we know that we are going to use them right away, we often put them straight into the freezer.  This is especially true for baked goods.

Have any suggestions on how you keep from wasting food? Share them!

Start Saving Right Now #2:Reduce Your Consumables

paper-towel

After using coupons for awhile and constantly being on the quest to save ourselves money, I realized that there were many things that we buy that we might be able to do with out (or use much less of).  After I started cloth diapering I was especially aware of paper products that could be replaced with a cloth alternative.   Here are a few things we have either completely done away with, or have reduced our consumption of.

  • Paper towels (Still hard sometimes.)
  • Dryer sheets (Almost never use them.)
  • Napkins (We don’t seem to need them often, and use some type of cloth when we do.)
  • Tissues (We use toilet paper or cloth wipes for the babies)
  • Disposable party supplies/decor (I have fun using my own dishes and try to get creative to use things I already have as decor)
  • Cheap disposable containers (We use glass which should last for a very long time)
  • Zippered plastic bags (We use fold over sandwich bags (much cheaper) or our glass reusable containers when possible.)
  • Disposable dusting tools (Unless I can get them for close to free, I use a cloth diaper or old sock.)
  • Cotton balls (Used to use them for makeup removal and face washes etc. and now use cloth for almost everything.)
  • Garbage sacks (We only use them in our kitchen garbage which seems to last us a few days)
  • Water bottles (We used to purchase a case at Costco occasionally for water on the go. Now we use metal water bottles.)

Now I am not saying that by not purchasing cotton balls you will save loads of money. Obviously some changes will save you more than others, but it is nice to simplify your life, reduce waste, and save time and effort (by not couponing and shopping for unnecessary items).  Start paying attention to the things you go through the fastest and try to think of a reusable alternative or just stop buying them all together.

*Even though many of the disposable items in our home have been replaced with cloth items, I have not seen a large increase in laundry at all.  Most of these types of things are small and can easily be tossed in with loads I would already be running.

Things your family might use that you could find an alternative for or stop using.

Little paper cups in the bathroom.

Paper plates, cups, straws, and plastic silverware.

Disposable floor cleaning systems.

Small hand soap containers. (Refill them over and over or use decorative ones that will last.)

Small jar candles (Fairly expensive and create waste.)

Ways to know you are succeeding at reducing your consumables.

Your have less trash than you did before.

Your shopping lists are shorter and more basic.

Your consumable products are lasting you longer.

You find you run out of kitchen towels faster.

Your family is following suit.

Start phasing out a couple items at a time.  Explain to your family why you would like to make these changes and get them excited about saving money and helping the environment.  You will be so thrilled when an errand to Walmart or Target does not become an $80 dollar trip.  These types of changes will help you spend your “grocery” money on exactly that…GROCERIES!  How exciting is that!

Start Saving Right Now! #1

soap

Make a list of the top 10 house hold items you that use the most and/or tend to cost you the most.  Begin to watch for coupons and sales on these to reduce your spending right away where it will count the most.  Also, begin to create a stock pile of these items so that you are never forced to pay full price because you ran out.

For us the household items (non-grocery) we use that cost the most that are:

  • Toilet paper
  • Baby Wipes
  • Dish Washing Detergent
  • Laundry Soap
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Lysol Wipes
  • Bar Soap
  • Face Wash
  • Zip-lock baggies
  • Tin Foil

Spend a few minutes deciding what your “Top 10” list is.  This easy step will help you save money right away.   Today’s the perfect day to start!

Hint: Be sure to pull your two inserts from your (or your parents) Sunday paper before it gets recycled this week!