With a little creativity and some smart shopping, it’s possible to reduce food waste at home quite easily. If you find yourself throwing out rotten food on a regular basis, you’re also throwing away the money you used to purchase the food. And that’s not good for the grocery budget!
Here are 11 ways to Reduce Food Waste and save money:
Create a Meal Plan
Creating a meal plan is a crucial step to help you spend less and waste less. When you know what you’re going to eat every day of the week, you ideally will only purchase the foods you need at the grocery store. Without a meal plan and a grocery list based on your plan, you’ll most likely find yourself wandering the aisles grabbing whatever looks good to you. That’s fun, but you’ll most likely end up with not enough or not the right groceries for a week’s worth of meals.
If you really struggle with menu planning, then try out $5 Meal Plan. It happens to be my favorite meal planning service. It’s just $5 a month (the first two weeks are free!), and you get menu plans sent straight to your email along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This service allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well! If you are interested in joining for free, click here.
Account for Leftovers
If you find you usually have quite a few leftovers, account for the leftovers in your meal plan. Maybe set aside one or two nights that you devote to eating up those leftovers. Or, turn those leftovers into another meal. Perhaps all that leftover spaghetti sauce will create a wonderful chili, as an example.
If your pantry and freezer are quite well stocked, start your “shopping” there. By using what you have on hand already, will ensure you don’t buy more than you need and will help prevent food waste on the products you’ve already purchased.
Also, something I’ve learned about our family is, while buying a big package of celery (for example) may be cheaper in the long run than buying individual stalks, most of it goes to waste! We’re not big celery eaters so purchasing individual stalks is actually cheaper for us because I only buy what we will use. This same principle can apply to many different items in the grocery store.
Buy What you Love
You may have had some moments where you think you should eat more quinoa/fish/whatever, as you’re strolling through the grocery store. I’ve had plenty of those nutritional guilt trips, but this inevitably leads to unplanned purchases for items your family may not be too excited about yet. Focus on the foods your family enjoys, and add new ones gradually, after you’ve found recipes worth trying.
In all honesty, I never understood how buying local produce could save you money since the price I was looking at paying was more expensive than something I could purchase from a regular grocery store. But then I realized that local produce travels way less than anything purchased from most grocery stores. Because local produce travels less, you’re paying for a fresher item that will have a much longer life span! Makes sense, right? An obvious reason to support our local farmers.
Take Smaller Portions
Before you dish out another big portion, ask yourself if you really will finish what’s on your plate. Since it’s not likely you’ll save that little piece of chicken you couldn’t finish, stick to smaller portions. You can always get seconds!
Rather than scraping your leftovers into the garbage or if you don’t feel like eating them before they go to waste, put them in the freezer! This makes for a great way to reduce waste and creates an easy meal for a busy night.
Store Produce Properly
Not all produce should be stored the same way. Here’s a great guide on Design Mom with 6 Secrets to Properly Washed & Stored Produce.
Learn to read the labels
Take some time to learn what “Sell-by” or “use-by” dates actually mean. The sell-by date is the last recommended day you should buy a product from the store, but you can still eat it several days to a week after. “Use-by” is the date through which the item will be top-quality. But, if stored properly, most foods will stay fresh a few days longer than the use-by date! Of course, if you note any weird odors, textures, or colors, throw it out.
Whether it’s soft spots in apples, bruises on bananas or dark spots on potatoes, all produce will develop imperfections. With produce that is past its prime, simply cut around the “bad” parts before you eat or throw veggies into a stock pot for soup, or make a smoothie with the less pristine fruits. Just because something isn’t in perfect condition doesn’t mean it’s inedible!
If you’re dealing with mold, though, it’s time for the garbage. Unless it’s cheese. You can cut around the mold to salvage the rest.
Save it for the compost
Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable pieces and peelings? In a few months you’ll end up with nutrient-rich compost for your garden!
How do you reduce food waste in your home?
We all know buying in bulk is a great way to save money for our families. When you buy larger quantities you pay less for each ounce, serving, or piece. Sadly sometimes our best intentions to save money by purchasing in bulk, costs us more money than we intended. The good news is, all of those great intentions can pay off and you can buy in bulk to save money with a little planning and know-how.
Use the tips below to help you learn how to buy in bulk to save money.
Decide if bulk is worth it for your family.
Smaller families do not need to buy everything in bulk because when food goes bad you are not truly saving anything. Some things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies are great to buy in bulk for everyone. They will never go bad and you can get your money’s worth from a purchase like that. However, in most cases, a small family may find it challenging to go through large quantities of perishable items before they go bad.
Compare bulk price to the regular price.
Sometimes buying in bulk is not as good of a deal as may sound. Take the time to divide the price by ounces, servings, or pieces so that you can see how much you are really paying. When sales hit it can often be better to buy the smaller packages than to purchase the bulk one, not on sale.
Check expiration dates and rotate your stock.
It is really easy for things to be forgotten in the back of the pantry or freezer for a long period of time. Only to be discovered when it is too late. Grab a sharpie and put dates in large print on everything. Move new items to the back when putting your groceries away to avoid using the newest items before the old.
Store items well to make them last longer.
Airtight containers can keep your bulk supplies fresh longer. A vacuum sealer can keep that fresh meat you found a great deal on from being freezer burnt before you can use it, and storing produce like carrots in water will keep them fresh longer giving you time to use them.
Plan your menu to use up fresh items before they go bad.
Nothing can ruin a great deal like not using what you bought before it begins to rot. When purchasing produce in bulk you really want to be sure you have a plan to use it. When we find a really good deal we plan to use it in every meal and snack we can to be sure it gets used.
Compare prices and selections at your local wholesale clubs BEFORE buying a membership.
Often places like Costco will let you in to check out the selection before you buy a membership. Compare the prices of the top ten things your family will be buying in bulk and go with the club membership if that will give you the best deal on these items.
Look for bulk in unexpected places.
Often supermarkets will have bulk basics like flour in 25-pound sacks available. Your local farmer’s market is a great place to find a deal on bulk produce from local farmers looking to clear out stock by the end of the day. You do not have to purchase a wholesale club membership to buy in bulk if you take the time to shop around helping you save a bit more money when buying in bulk.
Do you find buying in bulk is worth it for your family? What things do you most often buy in bulk? From where?
Have you heard of the Canadian Scanning Code of Practice? It could be very valuable to you!
Most Canadian retailers take part in this practice. In Quebec it’s the law and in other provinces, it’s voluntary. Basically, if you purchase an item believing it to be a certain price but the item actually scans at a higher price then advertised, you receive the item free up to a $10 value! If the item is priced more than $10, then the retailer will give you a discount of $10 off the corrected price.
The code applies to all UPC, bar coded, and/or Price Look Up (PLU) merchandise sold in stores, with the exception of goods not easily accessible to the public (example: prescription drugs and behind the counter cosmetics), and individually price-ticketed items.
To be eligible for the Item Free Scanner Policy, the item must match the product description on the corresponding shelf tag.
Does that make sense?
Quite often the cashier won’t give you the product free without you mentioning the Scanning Code of Practice. So if you notice a wrong price, speak up!
At participating retailers you should see a sign on the entrance doors and at the till that reads:
Scanning Code of Practice: If the scanned price of a non-price item is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price, the customer is entitled to receive the first item free, up to a $10 maximum. If a Code of Practice problem cannot be resolved at the store level, please call 1-866-499-4599 to register your complaint.
If you would like more information, visit this site: Retail Council of Canada
Here is a list of participating retailers:
- Shoppers Drug Mart
- The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and Ont only)
- Lawton Drug Stores
- London Drugs
- Lovell Drugs
- Pharma-save (BC and Sask)
- Canada Safeway Limited
- The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
- Loblaw Companies Limited
- Sobeys Inc.
- Metro Inc.
- Thrifty Foods
- Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
- Co-op Atlantic
- Federated Co-operatives Limited
- Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
- The Home Depot Canada
- Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
- Toys r Us
- Shoppers Drug Mart
- Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
- Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
- The North West Company
- Best Buy/Future Shop
- Home Hardware franchisees
- Thrifty Foods
- Overwaitea Food Group
- The Harry Watson Group
- Longos Brothers Fruit Markets
Homes in general create a large amount of waste. However, I happen to think the kitchen is the biggest offender of all the rooms in the house. From rotten produce to packaging, there’s almost an endless amount of waste coming from this one room! If you have been considering a no waste kitchen there’s no better time than now and I’ve got some tips to help you get started.
Twelve tips to a no waste kitchen
The first step to reducing kitchen waste is to reduce and reuse packaging. Be mindful when buying packaged items. Jars and containers can be reused for other reasons. Visit your local farmer’s market to buy fresh produce and bring a basket so you do not need to take plastic grocery bags. Not only are these foods better for you, they have a lower impact on the earth. I’ve also learned that Bulk Barn will be introducing a reusable container program at all Bulk Barn locations starting February 24!
Regrow produce from leftovers. Yes, it’s true! Several produce items can be regrown using the ends! From celery to pineapples to green onions and more, you are bound to find a favorite thing your family can regrow.
Put overripe fruit to use by making bread, muffins, and other fun treats. We are all familiar with treats like banana bread but you can do this with nearly any overripe fruit in your fridge.
A great way work towards a zero waste kitchen is to compost and boost your garden nutrients at the same time. Instead of throwing out what your family does not eat, use it to build up your garden and feed your family again. Banana peels and eggshells are great to toss right into your garden beds.
Invest in storage that makes food last longer. Produce can go bad fast but with the right storage, you can make it last longer than ever. Washing fruits in a bit of Apple Cider Vinegar will kill off mold spores that make them go bad faster. Storing carrots and celery in water can make them last weeks at a time.
Related: The large container in this set is great for storing produce!
Ditch the sponge for a washable dishcloth that lasts longer and cuts down on bacteria that can make your family sick.
Ditch the paper towels for a washable option like reusable towels or microfiber cloths. Reuse cans for draining things that cannot be washed down the drain, like bacon grease.
Make eggs last longer. When storing store bought eggs put them directly into a sealed container in the fridge. These eggs no longer have the protective coating the chicken leaves on the eggs so they can absorb odors, flavors, and bacteria from your fridge. If you have your own chickens don’t wash the eggs. Slightly dust off feathers and bedding that may be on them and store on the counter. Do not WASH until you go to use them.
Shop with reusable supplies like cloth grocery and produce bags. One trick you may enjoy is bringing laundry baskets or big storage containers when you go shopping. Have the cashiers toss everything into the baskets instead of bags. Move the basket to your car and from your car to your home. It cuts down on waste and makes getting everything in easier. You may want to separate refrigerated and pantry goods in these baskets to make putting everything away easy.
Don’t buy more than you need. So often we see a sale and buy more than our families can use before it goes bad. If you do not have a deep freezer, control the impulse to buy out that clearance meat. The same goes for buying produce, milk, eggs and even pantry goods that can go stale.
Go homemade. To cut down on packaging waste for convenience items like cookies, granola bars, apple sauce cups or even frozen entrees, start making those items at home and storing in reusable containers or your baking ware.
I can’t write anything relating to food without mentioning the importance of menu planning. Menu planning is especially vital to reducing food waste and lowering your grocery bill. If you really struggle with menu planning, then try out $5 Meal Plan. It happens to be my favorite meal planning service. It’s just $5 a month (the first two weeks are free!), and you get menu plans sent straight to your email along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This service allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well! If you are interested in joining for free, click here.
Armed with these tips, you should be able to make little steps towards a no waste kitchen. Changing one thing at a time will enable you to keep more money in your pocket too!
I’d love to know how you reduce food and packaging waste in your home. Please share in the comments below!
Ready, set, go! The No Spend Challenge is officially underway! So far, we’re off to a great start! 😉
Truthfully, I’m winging this challenge. 🙂 In the morning of December 29, I had fully intended on doing a month of organizing here on Simply Frugal for January. But come the afternoon of December 29, I realized that that would be silly of me to do personally because I should be packing up to move instead of organizing things! So, the No Spend Challenge just made more sense since we could really do with a lot less spending.
It appears as though many of you agree because so many of you have joined me over at the Simply Frugal Community on Facebook! Yay!
Before we get started with today’s post, I thought it would be important to think about why you are taking the No Spend Challenge and what you hope to achieve. It’s important to always keep your reason(s) in mind as the challenge goes along because this month isn’t just about saving money, it’s about changing your mentality as it relates to shopping, your needs, and what a good life is all about.
Throughout the next 28 days I’ll be touching on some of the most common ways we like to spend money and suggesting some solutions or ideas to help us all start to think differently about how we spend money on those things. There won’t be daily posts, but I will provide the occasional task to complete. Not only to help get your mind off the fact that you’re not spending money, but also to help you get into the habit of using what you have, rather than buying more. Another perk to the No Spend Challenge is to realize and appreciate all that we do have. 🙂
Today, we’re going to spend some time thinking about our menu for the month. (Or start with a week and go from there.) Food can be a huge area of the budget. Especially if we’re used to eating out regularly. Let’s see if we can learn to use what we have and cook more often at home by planning some meals.
First of all, start by making a list of all your favourite recipes and your family’s favourite meals. Feel free to ask them for input! Don’t worry about the ingredients, it’s important to just write as many ideas as possible. Here’s a free meal ideas printable to help you out:
Next, take a quick inventory of what you have on hand already by taking a look in your pantry and fridge/freezer. Here are some handy freezer and pantry inventory checklists for you to print:
Get the Pantry Inventory worksheet here.
Get the Freezer Inventory worksheet here.
Now, take a look at your pantry and freezer inventory lists and think of one meal that corresponds with each ingredient. For example, if tomato sauce is on your list, you could write spaghetti, sloppy joes or lasagna.
Finally, find more ideas by getting inspired by taking a look though cookbooks, magazines or browsing the web! Pinterest is a great way to find recipes as well.
Try to have at least 28 meals on your list. One for each day of the challenge. More if you need to plan breakfasts and lunches. (I tend to rotate through the same few meals for these, but I think it’s still important to write down.)
I’ll be back tomorrow with my list of No Spend Month Meals.
I’d love it if you left a comment listing at least one meal idea from the list you just made! Be sure to join the Simply Frugal Community on Facebook for the discussion we will be having about this.