5 Ways to Waste Less in the Kitchen

This post is mainly to get my own butt in gear regarding food waste, but I think many of you could benefit from it as well!  Or at least input some valuable tips for those of us that need some help! 🙂

These days it’s essential to save money on groceries, so here are five tips to make the most of your food and minimize food waste.

5 Ways to Waste Less in the Kitchen

These days it's essential to save money on groceries, so here are five tips to make the most of your food and minimize food waste.

Use what you buy

A very obvious tip, but I too often find produce or other time sensitive ingredients sitting in my fridge on their very last legs. There are some days at the grocery store when I purchase something because it looks good and is on sale. Yes, a spur of the moment purchase, thinking that I can transform it into some tasty meal or snack during the week. The key here, with these purchases, is that I actually have to use the ingredient! So if I don’t have a particular purpose in mind when I buy it, I quite often find it sitting in the fridge rotting away. One way I’d like to help myself with this is to do something with the item right away. Maybe it’s a giant bag of carrots that I could cut up into sticks for easy snacking throughout the week!

Learn to use the ingredients you have

An important factor in my success with using these spur of the moment purchases is learning how to use them. Especially if they’re a bit more unique. I once used a coupon for a free tub of Greek yogurt with the intention of using it in some muffins. But, never having used, or tasted Greek yogurt before, I was unsure if it would be a good replacement for regular plain yogurt. I asked the wonderful people at our Simply Frugal Facebook page how I’d make out if I used it.  They convinced me it would be wonderful and even healthier for us!  That day, I learned some great tips about a product that was unfamiliar to me.

There are many websites out there that allow you to input an ingredient you have on hand, then generate a meal based on your input! Check out SuperCook.com, All Recipes ingredient search, and Kraft Canada.

Make the most of older food

If some of your produce is starting to show its age, don’t throw it out, simply salvage what you can!  This is probably the area I fall the hardest. I have intentions of turning that soft apple into apple sauce, but making it happen is another story. I get lazy 🙁

Here are some suggestions to make the most of older food:

  • Cut around the bad parts
  • Turn stale bread into croutons or breadcrumbs
  • Make apple sauce out of soft apples
  • Puree tomatoes into sauce or salsa
  • Brown bananas are the best for smoothies or baking
  • Old vegetables can be used in soups or stews
  • One bad potato in the bag? Weed out the rotten produce so you don’t contaminate the rest of the lot!

Know what you have

Knowing exactly what you have on hand can save you tons in the grocery budget. Make an effort to regularly go through the contents of your fridge and freezer so that nothing slips by unnoticed. Store things in clear containers so you can see the exact contents at a glance. Label your freezer food well.  Learning to store your produce properly will also ensure nothing goes to waste before you have a chance to use it!

Use the freezer

By now you might have noticed that I’m a big fan of using our freezer. Here are my favourite ways to fill it up with extra food:

  • Freeze any dinner leftovers to make for a super simple meal on a rushed night
  • Put all the end bits of vegetables in a freezer bag to make broth once the bag is full
  • Take advantage of local, seasonal fruit and stock up, but freeze the majority of it for a taste of summer all year long.  Here’s how I freeze peaches if you’re interested!
  • Put any extra wine, broth, tomato paste, lemon/lime juice into ice cube trays to add to meals at a later date.
  • Freeze extra rice to turn into fried rice

What are your tips to make the most of your groceries and leftover food?

How To Cut Your Grocery Bill Without Sacrificing

Did you know that with just a little bit of prep work and an open mind you may have the possibility of cutting your grocery bill in half?

It’s totally possible to eat better quality, healthy food while spending less on groceries. Here are some ways for you to cut your grocery bill without sacrificing taste or your health.

It's totally possible to eat better quality, healthy food while spending less on groceries. Here are some ways for you to cut your grocery bill without sacrificing taste or your health.

Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time

I have many articles about meal planning, but this is because I can’t stress enough how important meal planning is. Especially if you want to cut down your grocery bill.

There are two ways to go about meal planning. You can plan meals based on what you already have at home or plan based on what is on sale in the flyers at your local stores. The first option would be your cheapest option since you’re using ingredients you have already purchased. It’s still quite possible that you will have to fill in missing ingredients with a trip to the store.

If you go with the second option, you can then plan and base your meals on the sale items. Most of the sale items will be in season so your meals will be too. By planning your meals to match what’s on sale, you’ll be surprised at how much that will cut from your grocery budget.

Take Advantage Of Coupons

The great thing about coupons and couponing is that you’ll never have to shop and pay full price for your groceries, it really becomes a fun game when you’re paying less than full price for your items. So, take advantage of all the coupons you can use to get discounts on grocery items.

You can start collecting coupons from your local newspaper or even from mobile phone apps. There are also websites like Simply Frugal that lists all the most recent Canadian coupons.

Purchase Generic Items

Name brand items can be really eye-catching but they can also have the ability to empty your pockets as well. Often the only difference between a grocery’s brand-name product and a store-brand product is the packaging.

If you take a closer look at the list of ingredients, in most cases, you’ll actually see that they are nearly identical. It’s just the price that’s different. So, before you take that name brand item off the shelf, do your research and you’ll definitely be rewarded with the best deal.

Tip:  Ingredients are listed in order of the amount in the item, so if sugar is the first ingredient in your cereal, you know there’s more sugar in it than anything else in the box. So, when checking ingredients between generic and brand name, be sure they are listed in the same order to ensure you’re getting the same “taste”. This is always a great way to determine which version is the more healthy version, if that is your goal with ingredients.

Buy In-Season Fruits And Veggies

Sometimes you just want to satisfy a craving with out of season fruits and veggies but to really make a dent in your grocery bill, you’ll want to purchase in season produce.

Out of season fruits and veggies will definitely be more expensive because they cost more and take more effort when they are not in season.

Plant A Garden

Growing your own food is the best way to go when you really want to lower your expenses and save money on your grocery bill. A great example is having your own herb garden.

If you buy a bunch of herbs they can be expensive and you may only need them for a meal or two (this is again where meal planning can be helpful). But if you have some potted herbs in your garden or kitchen, you’ll save a lot of money and have those herbs at your fingertips anytime you need them. Plus fresher always tastes better.

Cutting your grocery bill without sacrificing is definitely doable. It will just require you to make a few changes and find what works for you and your family. Taking control of how your money is spent and saved is a great feeling when you’re trying to stay within a budget.

Do you have some tips you can share to help cut the grocery bill? Please tell us in the comments below.


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10 Reusable Household Items that Will Save You Money

The Best Reusable Household Products

One of the ways I began to save extra money was by ditching some of the disposable products we used in our home and replacing them with reusable household items.  

In the beginning, this did cost us a few more dollars but quickly turned into big savings each month we weren’t purchasing the disposable versions!

Now, I know the appeal of disposable items. They can be so gosh darn convenient! But by simply switching out one disposable product for a reusable product, not only will it have a positive impact on our planet, it will also have a positive impact on your wallet! Before you know it, you’ll be trying to replace every household product with a reusable one!

Below, I’ve listed the best reusable household items that we’ve been loving in our own home lately! 

Wool Dryer Balls

For years now I have been using wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets and fabric softener. In fact it’s been a while since I bought my wool dryer balls so they’re finally starting to fall apart!

If I ever feel like having a bit of a scent to the laundry, I’ll add a couple drops of essential oil to a couple of the balls.

When purchasing wool dryer balls, make sure they are 100% wool. This will ensure fluffiness, reduce static and reduce drying time.

Reusable Water bottles

Before we leave the house, I make sure all of our reusable water bottles are filled up so we can avoid buying a bottle of water when we’re out and about.

While any reusable water bottle will work, our favorites are the ones that are insulated. They keep water cold for much longer! My husband and I are using these bottles while I like the Thermos ones for our daughters.

Kitchen towels

Ditch the paper towels once and for all! I have one roll of paper towel on hand and that is to check the oil in our vehicles and for wiping up cooking grease. Other than that I use kitchen towels, cloths, and big bath towels for cleaning up spills, and wiping dirty fingers and faces. Basically reusable towels are used for everything paper towels are typically used for.

I also still use those baby wash cloths all. the. time for cleaning up messes, wrapping freezies and even wiping out their Wipe Clean activity books.

By simply switching out one disposable product for a reusable product, not only will it have a positive impact on our planet, it will also have a positive impact on your wallet!

Reusable straws

It’s so easy to make the switch to reusable straws! We’ve got two different kinds that we use at home. Stainless steel and super fun silicone ones. I don’t have a preference, but my daughters like the silicone ones the best. Probably because they’re soft and fun colored.

Be sure to get a small straw brush to keep you straws clean!

Reusable K-Cup

We were gifted a Keurig coffee maker years ago and it’s still one of our favorite appliances and gets daily use. The one thing I don’t like about it is the k-cup waste. However, we recently switched to a reusable K-Cup and love it! It’s so easy to use and the coffee tastes just as good. Plus now we can get a big bag of ground coffee beans (cost effective) or use the locally roasted beans that we love.

Reusable shopping bags

Now that most grocery stores are charging for plastic grocery bags, I want to avoid that unnecessary expense as much as I can! I have reusable grocery bags stashed in the car and both of my bags in hopes that I won’t have to use a plastic bag.

The reusable shopping bags that I have are similar to these ones and fold up really small and are so easy to stash in my bags. I love that they are washing machine friendly so I can toss them in the wash once in while!

Silicone baking mats

With silicone baking mats, there’s no need to spray your cooking sheets or use parchment paper. That means you could possibly eliminate two grocery items from your list saving you a bundle in the long term.

Silicone baking mats are really easy to clean and hardly take up any space in your cupboards.

Mason jars

Open up the cupboards or even your fridge and you’re bound to find some sort of glass jar! Wash and reuse the glass jars that you find for so many things. I use mine for storing dried beans/lentils/rice, freezing broth, holding makeup brushes and so much more.

Mason jars are fairly inexpensive to buy if you want matching jars. Scour the garage sales too!

Reusable Sandwich Bags

This is a new purchase for us and I’m loving it! I used to wash our plastic sandwich a few times before tossing them, but I’m liking this alternative way better.

These reusable storage bags are freezer friendly, leak-proof, come in various sizes and clean easily.

Travel Mugs

These are a must-have in our family! Every morning, instead of hitting the drive thru, my husband makes a travel mug full of coffee for his morning at work. Saves a ton of coffee money over the long run! I’ll bring mine along when I’ve got a bunch of errands to do. But even if you do go to a coffee shop or something, many places offer a small discount if you bring your own mug. (Starbucks, for example.)

Using these reusable household items is such a great way to begin moving towards a more eco-conscious way of living plus you’ll be saving a lot of money over the long term!

I’d love to know what you would add to the list!

Related articles:

Reusable household items that will save you money

10 Quick And Easy Meal Prep Ideas For Summer

Summer is almost here! Can you feel the heat and the excitement?

This season is all about outings, get-togethers, swimming, and vacations! There are more opportunities to spend more time with your family and friends. Catch up, enjoy, and explore new locations!

Of course, any summer activity would not be complete without food!

If you want healthy and home cooked meals, you don’t need to spend a lot of time (Who has extra time in the summer anyway?) The secret is all about meal prepping. You can create different meals for different times of the day without the hassle and without overspending on take out.

If you want to create a meal plan this summer for your family, here are 10 quick and easy meal prep ideas that will help.

If you want to create a meal plan this summer for your family, here are 10 quick and easy meal prep ideas that will help. #mealprepideas #summercooking #mealprep

Create A Plan

Decide on the different kinds of food that you want to prepare ahead of time. Take note of all the recipes you want to prepare and cook for the whole week. Then write down all the ingredients you need on your shopping list.

Start Multitasking

Cook multiple recipes at the same time. You can roast summer vegetables while baking chicken. This will allow you to get things done faster.

Don’t Over Prep

Don’t prepare meals for five days or more at one time. Some foods, such as fresh summer produce, may not last for more than three days in the fridge and you might end up with a lot of spoiled, wasted food.

Use Your Grill

Summer is often too hot to turn on the oven because it heats up the house. Instead, prepare meats and vegetables to cook outdoors on the grill, after all summer is time to grill! Schedule some barbecue nights and grill fresh summer vegetables. They not only taste great, you can relax on a warm summer evening with your family while grilling outside.

Be sure to cook up plenty of meats so you have leftovers for other nights!

Prepare Raw Food

Vegetables like zucchini and cucumber can not only be paired with different fruits and veggies, it can make you feel cooler, especially during the hot summer months.

Spiral some zucchini and cucumber then blend them with basil pesto for a vegan pasta recipe. You can also schedule some no-cook options like canned corn, beans, and green salads to spice up your weekly schedule.

Utilize Your Slow Cooker

You might think that your slow cooker is only for winter, but this multipurpose appliance is also ideal for summer cooking!

You don’t need to heat up your whole house while waiting for your lunch or dinner to be cooked. Start making large batches of shredded meat or beans then freeze them in smaller portions. You can also cook potatoes, corn, and carrots in your slow cooker.

The Instant Pot is also ideal for summer cooking!

Glass Over Plastic

Plastics can be cheaper but using glass containers are better. Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should choose glass over plastic containers:

  • The contents are easier to see.
  • You can microwave them.
  • The taste of the food will not be altered, even if you leave them in the container for several days.
  • Glass doesn’t release any chemicals when exposed to heat, thus making it safer for your family’s health.

Reuse Leftovers

Make extra servings of your meals for dinner then eat the leftovers for breakfast or lunch. My husband loves taking leftovers to work!

Reusing leftovers makes it easier to plan your meals because you don’t need to think about the food you’ll eat for lunch every day. It also eliminates wasted food and cleaning out the fridge.

Buy The Best Bread You Can Get Your Hands On

Did you know that all the outdoor activities of summer can cause you to feel more hungry and more often?

Opt to get whole grain breads, especially if you’ll be having sandwiches for any of your meals. Look for a bread that is made with 100 percent whole grain. Bread with lots of texture makes you feel like you are eating an actual meal, which can make you feel fuller, faster, rather than just eating a sandwich.

Cook Once A Day

Prepare all your food in one go then store them in your glass containers so you can just heat them up once your mealtime comes.

Check your schedule then look for a block time when you can cook and prep your meals on a daily basis.

Stop spending a lot of time thinking and prepping your meals for the whole week. With enough preparation, you can feed yourself and your family with healthy and delicious meals without spending much time or money.

What are your summer meal prep tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Reader Question – What are Your Must-Haves in your Pantry?

Simply Frugal reader question

Here’s a question from Christine:

Here is what I would like to know: a friend of mine is trying to start a pantry or a stockpile so that she is not constantly out of everything and so that she can maybe save a bit of money.

What would you consider your must-haves in your pantry?  What staples do you always have on hand?

Do you have a question you would like to ask the readers of Simply Frugal?  Send your question along to us here.

7 Foods From The Grocery Store You Can Regrow

Food is expensive. When it comes to making a budget for your family, you’ll notice that one of the highest costs you have is food. While it’s not possible to eliminate food from your grocery bill, you can decrease the costs by growing your own food.

On that note, did you know that many of the scraps from foods you purchase on a regular basis from the grocery store can be regrown in your very own kitchen? Instead of throwing away food scraps, you can start thinking differently about them!

Below, I’ve listed 7 foods from the grocery store that you can regrow in the comfort of your home. If you consider growing your own food right in your garden, you’ll have no problem growing your own produce from scraps.

Did you know that many of the scraps from foods you purchase on a regular basis from the grocery store can be regrown in your very own kitchen? Instead of throwing away food scraps, you can start thinking differently about them! Here are 7 foods from the grocery store that you can regrow in the comfort of your home.

Celery

One of the simplest foods from the grocery store you can grow from scraps, is celery.

Planting celery is very simple: Cut off the base or the bottom part of the vegetable and place it in a bowl with warm water. Place the container in a spot that has direct sunlight most of the day.

After a week, you’ll notice that there are leaves growing at the base of the celery. Once you see these leaves, it is now ready to be transplanted in the soil.

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is easy to grow from leftover scraps. Instead of throwing the bottom of the full head of lettuce in the trash, place it in a bowl with a bit of water.

Keep this bowl in a place with direct sunlight. Mist the leaves with water consistently. After two to three days, you will see that there are shoots of new leaves appearing. Once you see them, your lettuce is now ready to be transplanted or simply harvested for salads.

Bean Sprouts

Growing bean sprouts is easy. Just soak a handful of dry beans in water then leave it overnight.

Drain the water and place the beans in a container. Cover it with a towel, leave it overnight, then rinse it again the next day.

Keep doing this until you see the sprouts growing, then you can transfer them to your garden.

Onion

Another easy vegetable to grow, whether it is indoors or outdoors, are onions.

Cut the root of the onions off and plant it in a garden plot or container. Cover the root with potting soil but leave at least half an inch of the onion exposed. In a few weeks, you will start to see leaves growing.

For Green Onions, use the top part of the onion and leave the bottom 2-3 inches with the roots attached.  Place them in a container with water covering the roots. In no time you’ll see the tops of the green onions growing new green.  You can keep them this way and just continue using the tops and allowing them to grow in the water. Just change the water periodically and rinse the roots.

Garlic

Garlic is an easy way to start growing scraps with fast results.

For garlic, choose a whole bulb or individual cloves that have started to send out green sprouts. Place the bulb or clove in a small amount of water and change the water daily.

Potato

Did you know that you can grow a potato out of potato peelings?

Check the peelings to see if there are eyes on them. Cut the peelings into two to three-inch pieces but make sure that there are at least three eyes on each peel.

Dry these peelings, then plant them in your soil, about three to four inches deep. In a few weeks, you will see a potato plant starting to grow.

Tomato

Don’t throw away the seeds from the tomatoes! Rinse them and allow them to dry.

Once dried, you can start planting the seeds in a rich potting soil. Once the seedlings are a few inches high, you can transplant them outdoors where there is plenty of sunlight.

Turn your food scraps into golden nuggets. Instead of throwing them away, use them as another source of food. You are not only saving money, you are also assured that your family gets better and healthier food.