It’s Frugal Friday!
Last week, I posted about how planning before your grocery visit can save you money on your food budget. There are also ways to stretch your budget by preparing your food and using leftovers wisely.
Read on for more tips!
Spoiled Food Wastes Money
It’s true and you know it. But how do you make the most of the food you have and avoid spoilage?
One important tip is to make sure that you actually have accounted for all of your groceries after shopping. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally left a bag in the car (because it slipped behind something or under something) after shopping. Until I discovered the lost package, the food had spoiled or had been in the car so long that it wasn’t safe to be eaten.
I make several trips to the store during the week to re-stock on fresh veggies and fruits. I find that it is better for our family if I buy enough to last our family for a few days and then purchase more when the items run out. If I buy what I believe to be enough for the week, it usually ends up spoiling before I can use it. Our store is close to my house though. This may not be practical for your family if you live in a very rural area.
Storing meats in the freezer and defrosting them a day before you need to use them will also cut down on food waste.
Here in the United States anyway, it seems that bigger is better. It is not always so. Be careful when shopping buying super sized products at shopping clubs. Sure, it seems like a bargain at the store. But if you can’t use the food before it spoils or if you have no room to store the food, it really isn’t a bargain. I find that my kids actually eat more if I buy the super sized products! The only time I’ll shop at the shopping club stores is when I am making large quantities of food for a holiday, family, or church event.
Use Leftovers Wisely
I really dislike leftovers. I don’t mind eating them really-it’s just I have a problem deciding how to use them.
In our house, we usually have a little bit of leftovers. That little bit is too much to scrape into the trash or compost, but not enough to make much of a meal for our family of 7. Some weeks, when I have a lot of sizeable amounts of leftovers, we’ll have leftover night. I will re-heat several days worth of leftovers and let the children pick which meal they want.
Most weeks, I haven’t enough to do that. That’s when you have to be creative!
I keep a freezer bag in the freezer and I will put leftover vegetables in the bag in order to re-freeze them. If I have just a little leftover meat, I will put it in another bag and freeze. I also save vegetable, chicken, and beef broth (all in separate bags or freezer containers). When I get a sizeable amount of vegetables or meat, I’ll cook up soup in the crock pot. I use a container of the stock, add the vegetables and meat. I’ll purchase a fresh loaf of bread at the store and that’s our meal for the evening!
It’s also helpful to keep a 3 x 5 card on your refrigerator which lists a date and the meal that you cooked on that date. How many times have you found something in the fridge and wondered if it was “good” or not? By using this system, you’ll be able to tell. Also, if you haven’t used a meal by a few days after you’ve cooked it, you may want to freeze it for later use on a freezer plate, or you may want to use as much as possible for your soup containers.
One of my grandmother’s favorite sayings was “waste not want not”. This basically meant that if you didn’t waste what you had, you wouldn’t have to want for more of it. If you are carefully and don’t waste food, you can stretch that food budget as far as possible. This should hopefully make it possible for you to use those food budget dollars for other necessities!