Life Hacks

7 Simple Ways to Slice Your Grocery Budget

July 27, 2021

According to the USDA, the food wasted in the United States equals about 30 to 40% of the entire food supply in the country. Not only that, but food waste leads to budget grocery loss, with consumers wasting over $160 billion worth of food each year.

Whether you’re motivated by the desire to protect the planet or to cut your grocery bill, reducing your food waste is an admirable goal. And, you’ll find that it’s actually not that hard to stop wasting food and slice your grocery budget in half. Just follow these seven simple tips.

Tips to Help Decrease Food Waste & Increase Your Grocery Budget

1. Make a Grocery List

One of the easiest ways to reduce your food waste is to take advantage of a weekly meal planner. Plan out each of your meals, make a grocery budget according to what you need, and then stick to that list. This means no splurging once you’re at the store; the idea is to purchase only what’s on your list and nothing else. This prevents you from making impulse decisions and purchasing something that sounds good at the moment but will probably go to waste later. It’s also an effective way to create a healthy grocery list on a budget.

2. Learn How to Freeze

You can actually freeze a lot more foods than you think. This includes milk, cheese, eggs, vegetables, meat, and bread. You can extend the life of chicken breasts, for example, by freezing them until you’re ready to cook them. Or, if you see a good deal on bread, purchase more than a few loaves and freeze the ones you don’t need. You’re saving money and reducing your food waste by ensuring you’ll consume it all in due time.

3. Get Smart About Storing

Aside from learning how to properly freeze your food, learning how to store your food in a strategic way can also help you reduce food waste. First, it helps to never purchase more food than you’re able to see on your shelves. Often, people purchase food that gets pushed back into the pantry and then expires before they’re ever able to get to it. Then, it helps to also learn how to organize the food on your shelves. Organize by expiration date, for example, or organize by ingredients that expire faster than others. Once you have a system set up, it’ll be pretty easy to follow.

4. Set a Cleaning Schedule

Why didn’t you eat that turkey meat you had in the fridge or that leftover pasta from your favorite Italian restaurant? Probably because you forgot it was there, right? To reduce food waste and take advantage of your entire weekly grocery spend, set up a cleaning schedule that’ll help you figure out what’s in your fridge to eat already. It helps if this quick clean is right before you make your weekly grocery list. Clean out what you have, see what you don’t have, and adjust your grocery list accordingly.

5. Get Creative with Recipes

7 Simple Ways to Stop Wasting Food and Slice Your Grocery Budget | Cheese Debit Card

If you have a box of macaroni and cheese, some sausage, and a few leftover vegetables, chances are that you can use all of that to whip up a delicious, nutritious meal without having to let those ingredients go to waste. Just because you don’t know how to make your food work for you doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Downloading an app like Allrecipes Dinner Spinner, Tasty, or BigOven will allow you to enter the ingredients you have and then generate a list of recipes that work with those foods. Cool, right?

6. Cook Meals for Friends & Family

Not a fan of what’s in your pantry? Instead of throwing it out, make a plan to cook a meal for friends or family members. We could all use the extra help around the house right now, and chances are that someone you know would really appreciate a home-cooked meal. Ask around to see who needs help in the kitchen and plan to cook them a meal one night this week. Drop it off at their house one evening and allow them to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’ve reduced your food waste and done a good deed.

7. Donate Unused Food

If, for whatever reason, you’ve ended up with food that nobody in your household particularly likes, donate it! This is especially true for canned food, and it’s especially helpful around the holidays. Feeding America has a list of foods that are best for donating. At the bottom of the list, you’ll find a link to a helpful food bank finder that’ll show you the closest drop-off location in your area.

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