Every weekend do you find yourself rifling through the fridge and tossing out produce that has gone bad? Most of us moms do it way too often and it is such a horrible feeling to throw food (and money) in the trash! Most moms, aside from my friend Jenni Benerofe, The Balaboosta Chef. Jenni has mastered the art of meal planning and is a pro at utilizing every grocery item in her fridge. After chatting with Jen about her best practices, doing some research, and analyzing my own grocery shopping and cooking habits, I’ve put together tips to help you on the mission to stop wasting groceries and start saving money on groceries. Check out my video below and for even more written tips below, including a cool app that will recommend recipes based on the random ingredients left in your fridge!
1.)Take frequent inventory of food in your fridge and pantry.
Keep inventory of the foods that you end up throwing out so that you know not to purchase or to purchase less next time. And, keep track of the foods that are close to expiration or about to go bad so you can incorporate into an upcoming meal before wasting. This article on expiration dates by greatist.com provides an interesting perspective on when you should toss “expired” foods.
2. Make a weekly menu plan.
Develop a meal plan for the week before buying groceries. Jenni recommends sticking to a specific ethnicity or type of food for multiple meals because often times similar food styles will call for the same produce and herbs. For instance, one food I am constantly wasting is scallions, which are traditionally used in Asian cooking. The next time I purchase scallions for my Korean flank steak recipe, I should also plan another Asian dish during the week to incorporate the remaining scallions. There are several apps and online meal tools that assist in menu planning and recommending recipes that leverage the same ingredients. Check out this article from kitchn.com for recommended apps and meal planning tools.
3.Put together a grocery list before you head to the store:
Once you have taken inventory of what you already have and determined what you will make for the week, write down a grocery list before heading to the store. Organize your list to correspond with the aisles of your grocery store (ie produce, dairy, etc) and save in an app like Evernote. It may take time to put together the first time. But, once it is saved it is easy to replicate for future grocery trips. More often than not, half of your list will remain consistent from week to week. And, the golden rule of grocery shopping, don’t go to the store hungry!
4. Make larger, bulk meals at the beginning of the week:
Cook meals like soups, sauces, and ground meat recipes at the beginning of the week so you can use the leftovers for lunches or reinvent into different meal the next night. Some of my favorite “reinventions” include leftover chili made into sloppy joes and leftover steak made into fajitas or quesadillas.
5. Designate one night a week to leftovers:
Keep your leftover night in mind when building your menu plan, one less night to purchase groceries for. And stock your freezer and pantry with go-to staples that can help you incorporate your leftovers into a new meal or that allow you to whip up an easy, quick dinner if you don’t have any leftovers. My pantry and freezer staples include chicken broth, tomato sauce, tortillas, frozen ground turkey, frozen meatballs, pasta, and frozen veggies. Check out this article from AllYou.com for more great recommendations on How To Save On Groceries With Pantry Staples.
6. Get creative
Leftover fruit? Make a smoothie! Leftover veggies? Make a soup, stir fry, juice or frittata! There there are also websites and apps that can help you get creative in using up your leftover ingredients including AllRecipes.com and SuperCook.com.