A special thanks to Anne Davies for contributing this helpful article. As the need to budget our spending (especially on groceries) continues to rise, simple tips like these are very important to help you eliminate the waste at home. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely guilty of forgetting how long items have been in my fridge! Enjoy…
How much food do you waste every month? Do you cook up a delicious feast, store your leftovers in the fridge with best intentions and then forget all about them? Do your opened packets, jars and last weeks cooked dinners throw you into a whirl of confusion? You have no idea whether you opened that jar of spaghetti sauce last week or last month. All you can do is nervously judge whether it is still OK and then make the decision whether to eat or chuck it! Cutting down on the amount of food waste in your home is a really simple process. All you need to do is get started and once you do you will see a difference in no time. Here’s how:
Buying a pack of labels will erase the uncertainties encountered when keeping up to date with sell by dates (expiration dates). This is a tip that I inherited from my Grandmother; a French woman who grew up during World War II when the only food available was strict and limited rations. Her passion is food and luckily for her family she loves to cook, she also despises waste and she has made recycling and re-using ingredients a fine art.
Keep on top of what you are opening by labeling the items on the date of opening. If the sauce that you have bought expires in a month, you will know exactly when to get rid of it (and when to use it by). I keep my labels and a pen just above my fridge, a trick for convenience!
To ensure that your hearty meals don’t end up in the trash, buy a selection of containers that are suitable for freezing. Buy a selection of sizes that work with your family situation, such as a meal portion for one as well as for two people. When you have gone to the effort of cooking something tasty such as a pasta sauce you can freeze it in portion sizes and return to it at your leisure. When I am cooking something that I really enjoy such as a curry, I purposely make too much so that I can freeze a few portions, this saves time and money. Often when people freeze meals, they will freeze a large batch that once defrosted can not be re-frozen, resulting in waste. Use the sticky labels (see above) to name your delicious home cooked delights and add the cooking date.
While you are out getting your freezer containers pick up some Tupperware ones too, get a range of sizes, paying particular attention to smaller portion sizes. Take last nights take-out leftovers to work and enjoy them during your lunch; cheap and cheerful!
Other tips for cutting down your grocery waste
â€¢ Check in with your fridge and freezer: Before you do your food shop, make sure you get to grips with your fridge/freezer. Take a look through and see if there is anything that you want to use up or can work into your food week. You may find the perfect portion of something appetizing in your freezer that you had forgotten about!
â€¢ Plan your meals: Make a weekly food list, plan your meals and try and get ingredients that overlap. For example; if you need only one spring onion for a recipe but you can only buy them in packs, try and work spring onions into other meals in the week.
â€¢ Sell by dates: Pay attention to sell by dates (expiration dates) as you shop. Take a couple of seconds to check that the items you are picking up will still be edible by the time you plan to eat them. Also, bare this in mind when you are deciding what to eat, throwing away expired food is an utter waste, stopping this from happening is your responsibility, so plan accordingly. If you have bought some meat but doubt you will be eating it till later on in the week, store it directly in the freezer so that it keeps fresh and there is no risk of it going to waste.
â€¢ Shop online: Shopping online is a great way of saving waste and cash. With no in store temptations you can keep your purchases limited to the essential and needed. My mother is an extremely thoughtful shopper; every food item has its function. So, I was very surprised that since shopping online she has reduced her weekly shopping expenditure by $60 a week!
If you want more ideas on how to help with cutting down on expenses, specifically with food, check out these 12 Tasty Recipes Under $1.50 Per Serving.