Your Grocery Budget by Up to 14%
your meals, avoid spoilage and purchase perishables with restraint
Many frugal sites
emphasize how to buy food for less to save money off your
grocery bill. But a 2003
study found that Americans throw out over 14% of the food
that they buy, not even including plate scrapings!
So by planning
your meals in advance, not having any food spoil and not wasting
any food, you may be able to shave almost 14% off your food
Listed below are
some tips to help avoid spoilage, use leftovers and plans
your meals down to the last chicken nugget.
1. Plan your
meals in advance and make a grocery shopping list from your
plan. Inventory your food supplies each week. Make a note
of what you ran out of, what no one ate and what went to waste.
Keep fine tuning your meal plans and grocery list accordingly
until you are buying just enough food so you don't run out
of things and also don't waste food.
2. Only buy
in bulk for nonperishables, food you can freeze, or food your
family will realistically eat before it gets too old.
2. Beware of
food warehouses like Costco. Remember to shop with a list
and use self control. The warehouse prices are usually great,
but you are really only saving money if you actually can consume
all of the food you eat. Our neighbors stopped going to
Costco, because they said they never left there without spending
$200 in "bargains" they didn't know they needed.
The seductive nature
of Costco was even immortalized in a Seinfeld episode. Jerry's
neighbor, Kramer, a single guy, joins Costco and buys enough
cans of bulk Beefaroni to fill his car trunk. Clearly it would
take months, if not years, for one person to eat up all of
that Beefaroni, but since the price was so low Kramer could
not resist the purchase. It was pretty funny because I think
we've all been there -- going to a warehouse store and not
being able to resist all of the bargains, even on purchases
we didn't plan to make.
3. If you are not
a whiz at meal planning, it may be better to go grocery
shopping every few days. It is much easier to visualize
and plan what you are going to eat over three days than it
is to plan for the next week or month. Plus, fresh food
is more nutrient dense. The longer food sites in your
refrigerator, the more vitamins and minerals it loses over
time. Shopping frequently, if you have the time, gives you
more chances to buy fresh produce.
4. Invest in
a freezer to save leftovers, to stock up on food for emergencies,
to have extra food for unexpected guests or for times when
you don't have time to shop for fresh food.
I know a lot of
people recommend buying in bulk and then freezing food like
meat for later use on a regular basis. For us freezer food
is okay in a pinch, but I think my family is better off not
eating mostly frozen, thawed and reheated food for the majority
of our meals.
5. Avoid food
- When you are
grocery shopping, buy the perishables last and keep them
together in your cart so they stay cold. Ask the baggers
to pack cold foods together.
- If you are buying
any hot foods from the deli, keep these separate in your
shopping cart from the cold foods.
your refrigerator each day and make plans to use up leftovers
as soon as possible.
7. Keep a permanent
marker and tape handy near the refrigerator and mark the
date stored on leftovers. Periodically do a thorough scan
of the refrigerator and throw out anything old. Make a note
of what you didn't use up and use that data to reduce the
amount of food you buy on your next trip. Glass containers
are a good idea because they let you see easily what is in
the fridge without having to do a lot of searching around.
8. Make soup
with leftovers. Many nights after dinner I make soup in
a crock pot. Soup is nutritious, a good choice of food to
lose weight and also a great way to use up leftovers. Because
you are retaining the cooking water when making crock pot
soup and keeping a lid on the pot, it is a good way of not
losing any vitamins and minerals through steam or discarded
I either make my
own broth or use an organic, ready-made, generic brand stock
from our local grocery store. I cook the soup in the morning
and then leave it on low in the crock pot all day for a healthy
lunch and snacks.
fresh vegetables for dinner and save the cooking water.
Steaming is a good way to preserve vitamins and minerals.
Save the water used to make the steam as a nutritious broth
to make soup and also for some extra vitamins and minerals
when you make rice. If you don't have time or interest to
make soup stock, cook the water and use it for watering plants.