In our home we do grocery shopping on a weekly basis. Because I buy a lot fresh fruit and veg, shopping any less frequently would result in wasted/rotten food. There are several things I do each week in preparation for my grocery trip that help save time and money in the long run.
Here are five tips to saving money and avoiding food waste…
1. Organize your pantry, fridge and freezer and take inventory
This isn’t as hard or time consuming as it sounds, I promise! It is so much easier to see what you have when things in order. Taking 10 minutes to peek through the fridge, throw out expired containers and leftovers, and giving the shelves a quick wipe will make it a breeze to quickly see what you have AND will make it easier to put things away when you get back from the market. If you haven’t already, consider getting some organizing containers for the fridge.
2. Check the sales ads for your local grocery stores
Being a large family, frugality is key. Our budget is $150/week for everything- groceries, toiletries… everything. So making that dollar stretch is mandatory. By checking to see what is on sale, you can pair those items with what you already have on hand to cut costs that much more.
3. Make a meal plan and over time establish a meal rotation
If you need some inspiration for weekly meal plans, Heavenly Homemaker does a wonderful job of creating healthy plans that are easy to follow. She also has come cute menu planners to download for free. We do a two week rotation with the exception of Fridays. Every Friday is pizza and wing night. (We do homemade pizza and wings because who wants to pay $50 for ordering out?? Not us!)
What is a meal rotation? Well, it means you pick a theme for each day and rotate between two or three meals over time. For example, if Mondays is pasta then this week we would have Fajita Chicken Pasta and next Monday would be Three Cheese Chicken Pasta, and then we start over.
Having a meal plan for the week takes the stress out of cooking. By taking a quick glance at the meal plan in the morning, you know if you need to take meat out of the freezer or throw something in the crockpot. Thus avoiding the 4 o’clock “What’s for supper?” panic!
4. Make a list (and stick to it!)
This is the number one money saver when it comes to grocery shopping! It’s so simple to do, but also all too easy to deviate from. Along with making a list, let me encourage you to never go to the store without your list! I will literally turn back around (even if I’ve already arrived at the market) and go back home to get my list. Not having a list will lead to the number one anti-saver known as impulse buying.
5. Clean and chop your veg and portion your meat when you get home
This will save you so much time later in the week when it’s time to prep meals, and you will be more inclined to use vegetables for snacks if they’re already cut up. Also, pulling out pre-portioned meat is so much more convenient than having to thaw bulk meat, cook it all and refreeze it. Trust me, I know.
If it’s in your budget, consider getting some crisper inserts that will help your fruit and veg last longer and avoid food waste by naturally getting rid of the ethylene gas they release.
Taking the time to do these five simple tasks will set you on the track to saving money and avoiding food waste. Plus, once you make a routine of it, you might start to notice a little more wiggle room in your grocery budget. Yay wiggle room!!