The amount of food the average household throws in the rubbish each week is huge. It’s such a big waste of money, especially for budget conscious families, but it’s something that is completely avoidable with a little forward planning.
Follow these top 10 tips to limit your food wastage and watch your grocery bill drop!
1. Only buy what you need
One of the biggest reasons why so much food is wasted is because we simple buy more food than we actually need. Get into the habit of buying exactly what you need and nothing more. For example, if you are a family of 4 and you each eat 1 apple per day buy 28 apples in your weekly grocery shopping. Do the same for everything you regularly use including snacks, toiletries and cleaning products.
2. Shop your pantry first
How many times have you bought a can of tomatoes thinking you surely need more, only to come home and find 3 cans already stashed in the back of the pantry! When you write your shopping list, first check the fridge, freezer and pantry to make sure that you don’t already have that item that you need on hand. Only add the item to the list if you genuinely need it, don’t buy extras ‘just in case’.
3. Meal plan
Meal planning is the ultimate way to not only avoid wasting food, but also save you bucket loads of money. By planning your meals for the week you know exactly what you need and can add only those items to your shopping list. That way, you have no reason to buy things you think you ‘may’ need with no real plan to use them. The added bonus is that meal planning make the week seem so much more organised, with no time spent wondering what to make for dinner each night.
4. Take advantage of your freezer
Using your freezer to its full advantage is a great way to save your leftover food for another day. Just pop any leftovers after dinner each night into the freezer, and you have a lunch or even dinner ready to go. It’s also a great way to keep any excess food after a grocery shop. For example, try putting the entire loaf of bread in the freezer and just defrosting bread slices as you need them, avoiding half of the loaf getting eaten over a few days and the rest going in the bin.
5. Stick to your list
So you have created a meal plan for the week and written a shopping list based on that plan. That means you should only have items on your shopping list that you actually need, be sure to stick to it! Buying things that are not on your list, especially if you are buying them just because they are on sale, could mean you end up tossing it when it doesn’t end up eaten after all. When in the supermarket, don’t tempt yourself by browsing every single isle. Instead head straight for the items that you need and then check out, especially avoiding the snack, drink and confectionary isles.
6. Only buy in bulk if you will use it
It’s easy to fall for the idea that you should buy in bulk because the unit price is cheaper. If you don’t have a chance of using such a large quantity it will just be wasted, and you will have spent that extra money on a larger size for nothing. If it’s not something that has a long shelf life and that you use often, stick to the smaller pack size.
7. Move close to expiry items to the front of the fridge
Get into the habit of regularly digging around in the back of your fridge and moving any items that are nearing their expiry date to the front, so that the first items in are the first items out. Rotating items in your fridge stops you finding out of date dairy products weeks later in the back of your fridge. If you do have a large amount of something fast approaching its expiry date, do a quick search for recipes containing that product. That way you avoid wasting out of date products, and it could also be a great way to get a little creative and discover new recipes.
8. Use leftovers
Don’t throw out those leftovers! Instead, save them for tomorrow’s lunch, freeze them for another day, or turn them into tomorrow night’s meal by adding a few extra ingredients. Not only does keeping leftovers for another meal save you money, but it could also mean a night off from cooking!
9. Have a ‘use it up’ night once per week
Once per week set aside a night when instead of having a meal planned, you get creative and come up with a meal using anything that needs to be used up. Sometimes these can be the best meals! Try using those leftover vegetables sitting at the bottom of the fridge to make a pie or soup, adding a few pantry staples such as canned beans to bulk it up.
10. Store food properly
Not storing food properly means your food won’t last as long as it should have, which is just money down the drain. Always store dried food in an air tight container once the packaging has been opened, use the crisper draws in your fridge for fruit and vegetables, and divide up and freeze any bulk packages of meat immediately after getting home from a grocery shop.