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?

7 Seasoning Spice Recipes You Can Make At Home

Nothing beats home-cooked meals and knowing exactly what you’re feeding your family. It’s even better when the spices you use are those you’ve made yourself. Rather than using store bought spices that have ingredients you can’t pronounce!

Let’s take a look at 7 seasoning spices you can make at home.

Nothing beats home-cooked meals and knowing exactly what you’re feeding your family. It’s even better when the spices you use are those you’ve made yourself! Here are 7 seasoning spices you can make at home!

Homemade Ranch Seasoning

Ranch seasoning is a popular choice in many households. Ranch seasoning can be used to make dips, dressing, added to sauces, and as an ingredient in recipes from meatloaf to pasta salad.

Here’s how to make your own:

  • ½ cup dry buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill 
  • salt and pepper

Mix it all together and keep in an airtight container, such as a mason jar or plastic container.  This mix can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Curry Seasoning

Curry has its origins in Asia and gives a flavorful and spicy twist to your recipes. Instead of using store bought curry mixes, you can make your own.

Here’s how to make curry seasoning:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix well and store in an airtight container.  This is enough for seasoning one meal, or you can multiply it and keep the mix for up to a year to be used in future recipes.

Taco Seasoning

Who doesn’t love tacos? Everyone likes their taco seasoning a little different, but being able to make your own, to your own taste ensures you will have the perfect Taco Tuesday each week.

Here’s how to make taco seasoning:

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano

This recipe is enough for 1lb of ground beef.  Adjust the amount for more meat or multiply and keep in an airtight container for future use.

Jerk Seasoning

The Caribbean has given us dishes that have the mix of sweet and spicy flavors. This Jamaican jerk seasoning will add this great flavor to your next Carribean themed meal.

Here’s how to make your own: 

  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley

This recipe will work for 2 lbs of meat. If you mix it ahead of time, be sure to put it in an airtight container and it will keep for at least 3 months. 

Chili Seasoning

What’s better on a cool fall night than a steaming hot bowl of chili? This recipe will work for 1lb of your choice of meat.  

As with the others, if you want to mix up a batch to keep for later use be sure to put it in an airtight container.  It will keep for up to a year.

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme

Cajun Seasoning

Getting Cajun flavor just right can be very tricky, but once you get the right mix, you’ll be set. Cajun seasoning can be used in chicken and seafood dishes, here’s the mix you need: 

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Mix well and make more if you want to store it,  The mix will last up to 1 year.

Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning is another one that gets used in many dishes.

This Italian seasoning recipe is good to be used with your choice of meats, pastas, pizzas, and any other Italian dishes. 

  • 1 ½ teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon sage
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper

Spices don’t really “go bad”, they might lose their flavor or potency, but they won’t make you sick.  Most spices last from 1-3 years.  

If you make a spice mix that incorporates things other than just spices, that would be what determines the shelf life.  For example: the Ranch above has dry buttermilk, so that would be what determines how long you can store it and where it needs to be stored.

Hopefully these recipes will help add some “spice” to your life in the form of delicious meals!

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle is Back!

Home cooks all over the world want to simplify mealtimes, put unfussy (but still healthy) meals on the table, and ditch the frantic late afternoon craziness. You know what I’m talking about… hangry kids, frozen meat, and/or unsoaked dry beans.

If that’s you, hang on. Your life is about to get a lot easier. 🙂
This year’s edition of the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle is back for a 48 hour flash sale!

After feedback from last year’s customers, the Ultimate Bundles team created this year’s bundle to have a clickable, convenient index! You’ll find all the recipes in one place, plus you can ignore recipes that don’t fit your family’s diet or preferences, or even find recipes that will help you use up that last bit of produce.

You also get nutritional info for every recipe, so you’ll know the macros, fiber, and fat grams for everything from that matcha tea latte to the crockpot beef stew you’ve been craving to that decadent chocolate lava cake.

They’ve even standardized every single recipe, and put them all into 12 categorized, beautifully formatted and easy to use digital cookbooks, AND made more than 30 unique and practical meal plans to go with them (grocery lists and prep plans included). Plus, it even includes eBooks and eCourses on topics like budgeting, flavor and teaching kids to help in the kitchen. At just $37, it’s a no-brainer deal.

If you’re ready to stick to your food budget, whip up healthy meals, and quit wasting food, check out the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle before the sale ends at midnight tomorrow.

Get your bundle now!

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 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.

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!