Over the last three years of being married, I’ve slowly learned one “skill” that has helped us save a lot of money on food. That “skill” is to not waste or throw away any food. When we first got married, I’d forget about certain foods we had, especially fresh produce. I’d end up discovering something rotten or moldy and have to pitch it. I hated doing this, and felt guilty each time I’d throw something away, knowing there are people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Over the past three years, I’ve grown and learned as a homemaker, and have become more and more involved in our kitchen. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and baking, and since getting married, my passion for being in the kitchen has only increased!
If you find yourself throwing away food all the time, this article is for you. I have a few tips on how I’ve managed to change my ways and stop wasting food.
First, always have a menu plan. You’ll spend less money in doing so, and only buy ingredients that you actually need for specific meals.
Of course, you’ll want keep fresh produce on hand, like fruits and veggies and salad, so keep tabs on anything “extra” that you buy that’s not needed for a specific meal. If you have trouble remembering what you bought, keep a tiny list somewhere on your fridge.
If you have leftovers from a meal, and no one eats them the next day for lunch or dinner, immediately pop the leftovers into a container and into the freezer. It will be so nice to pull out on a day where you’re really busy or feel too exhausted to make anything (I always make too much soup, and actually just put some in our freezer today – enough for another meal!).
Anytime you have something that’s not getting eaten up, immediately look up a recipe for it, or pack it up and put it in your freezer for another time. We seem to struggle with the same foods, so I’ll give some examples of what I do to prevent food from going bad and having to be thrown out.
One item we always have trouble with is bananas.
We either eat them up really quick, or end up leaving them sit forever on our counter. As soon as they get extremely ripe, whatever we have leftover, I make into banana muffins.
Last night I made a double batch and then froze the two dozen muffins, and now we’ve got an easy snack for the rest of the next few weeks. There’s really a lot of produce that can be turned into muffins or bread. Zucchini, carrots, berries, apples, pumpkins etc.
When we first got married, we always purchased store-bought bread (now I make our bread) and we always seemed to be throwing out bread. One loaf took awhile for two people to get through before going bad. So I started keeping it in the freezer and only getting it out as needed. Now that I make our bread, I make it in round bowls (I make peasant bread which is about the easiest bread recipe you’ll find!), and often have end pieces that we don’t eat. I stash those away in our freezer. Once I have a lot of end pieces, I take them out and make a delicious french toast casserole. You could do this with end pieces from any bread, if you find no one in your house likes those end pieces. You could also make breadcrumbs, croutons, or bread pudding.
Another food item often found left over, is beans.
I often soak more beans than needed (it can be so deceiving since they increase in size after soaking), and while we try to incorporate them into meals to save money, beans aren’t exactly a favorite here. So I’ve learned to use up leftover beans in numerous ways. Leftover kidney beans get made into chili, leftover navy (or other white beans) into a chicken soup or chili, and black beans into black bean burgers or black bean soup. I make our yummy black bean burgers by mixing the beans with cooked quinoa, some spices, and an egg, and then form them into patties to freeze.
The real key to not wasting food is to be creative, and freeze, freeze, freeze! If you need inspiration, I’m sure a quick search on the internet will guide you to a great recipe for whatever item you want to save before going bad. This will give you the skill of turning anything into a meal or snack and ultimately save you lots of money on groceries!