How You can Save money and Reduce Food Waste
With the price of necessities going up and inflation and all that fun stuff, it’s a good time to think about some penny-pinching. And one of the easiest areas to cut spending is food and groceries.
Where you live, your lifestyle, and financial situation will impact your food options. But with a little effort and some discipline, you can make changes that reduce your food spending, and even help you eat healthier.
Save Veggie Scraps
I freeze leftover veggie scraps in containers until I have enough to make a hearty veggie broth I use as a base for soups or just to enjoy on its own. Saving and freezing leftover garlic skins, onion tops, carrot peelings and the like make the most of everything you buy so you get more use out of a single vegetable. It also saves money you might spend on store-bought broth.
Tip: Save kale stems, broccoli stalks, and other stems of green leafy vegetables separate from other veggie scraps. Broth from leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli tend to create a bitter flavor in broth. Instead, chop stems into small bits and freeze them to use as an extra vegetable in a soup or stir fry.
Free Trials of Food Delivery Services
Take free or discounted trials of food delivery services when you can. Purchasing groceries through a subscription service or having groceries delivered instead of shopping in person not only saves time, but forces you to think over your food selections. You eliminate the temptation to spend on last-minute purchases and helps with meal planning.
Tip: Grocery and food delivery and subscription service force you to enter credit card information to sign up for the “free trial.” If you only want the free trial, set a notification on your calendar to remind you to cancel the trial before it auto-enrolls you into the payment service. If you can, delete your card information after you sign up for the trial; the system can’t auto-enroll you without card to charge.
Make your own Snacks
I make most of my own snacks and desserts to cut costs; for example, I buy a can of chickpeas (which usually costs about a dollar) to make my own hummus instead of spending $5 on hummus from the store. With making your own snacks, you can buy your ingredients in bulk and use them in other recipes as well. For instance, you can use pack of tortillas to make soft tacos for dinner or to make your own chips for an evening snack. Making your own snacks and desserts also lets you control the amount of sugar, salt, and other items that go into your food. Most store-bought snacks and desserts contain large amounts of sodium, sugar, and all the other bad stuff we’re warned to avoid (but it tastes so dang good); when you make your own snack, you control how much salt and sugar goes into your food and can help your health in the process.
Tip: Popcorn, cookies, and dips are easy and quick to make yourself.
Freeze Meals For Later
After making a big meal, freeze a few portions of it in a container for future meals. Putting aside some food for later means you’re less likely to let it go bad in the fridge (and therefore waste the money you spent to create that meal), and saves time down the road when you need a meal but are low on time or energy. It’s easy to give in and do take out on nights when you’re tired and hungry, but a pre-made meal already in the freezer takes away some of that temptation.
Tip: If the meal include sauce, freeze the sauce separate from the rest of the food, especially if the other part of the meal includes vegetables.
Stock up on Dry Ingredients
Keep a stock of dried beans, rice, noodles, lentils, and other similar items in your pantry. These ingredients are easy to make into a complete meal that goes a long way. They’re also easy to combine with other ingredients in your fridge that may spoil more quickly. You can buy these items in bulk for very little, and it’s a good idea to have something non-perishable on hand for emergencies.
Tip: Dried quinoa is a great dry ingredient to have saved. You can use quinoa to make meals and it can be used in certain dessert recipes as well.
Food waste is money waste, so look for ways to reduce the food you throw out and make the most of every ingredient.