Use what you have

The area at which I am working the most hard for staying under budget, is the grocery/meal planning area.  For the past few years, I have planned our meals for the week and grocery shopped accordingly the weekend before.  Inevitably vegetables, fruit and meat would go to waste when we veered off of our plan, going out to dinner one or two or three nights instead of eating in.  Sometimes I just bought too much.  That kind of waste is no longer an option.  Now, when it seems like something is not going to be used up before it goes bad, I use it or freeze it.

Now comes step two.  Using what I have.  While I’m planning my meals for the next week, I take a look at what I already have in the freezer, fridge and cupboards (there isn’t much in the cupboards these days since we eat mostly fresh food — just spices, oils and the like).  Shop at home first.  You may be surprised at how many meals you can make with what you already have.  Get creative!  Use the internet!  There are some great recipes out there.

Step three: buy in bulk.  Costco is awesome (Sam’s Club too, pick your poison).  We buy our coffee, organic eggs, organic butter, tilapia, cottage cheese, carrots, bourbon, toilet paper, paper towel and sometimes berries and canned goods there.  Buying bulk is great because there is less unnecessary packaging and often you will find an item is the same price as the regular store, but in a bigger package (eggs, cottage cheese, lettuce — for example).  This is also where freezing comes in.  We are fortunate to have a chest freezer, so we don’t really have to think twice about buying a huge portion of something that needs to be frozen (except for now, because it is full of a cow).  If I buy strawberries at Costco, I’ll slice up enough for one week’s worth of Nick’s breakfasts (cottage cheese and strawberries), and slice the rest into canning jars and put them in the freezer.  When I buy the 10 lb bag of carrots at Costco, I peel 5 lbs and cut them into various sizes for various uses.  When those are gone, I peel the second 5 lbs.  They seem to stay good for quite a while.

We like to think of unused grocery items as money on the shelf.  That’s exactly what it is.  That money is on the shelf instead of in your pocket, so use it before you lose it.  When you throw away old food, it is like throwing dollar bills in the garbage.  Who would do that?  With a little planning, creativity and attention, you can keep a little money in your pocket, off the shelf and out of the garbage.  Use what you have.

Published in: on November 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. One other option: Shop the sales and plan your meals for the week based on the specials.

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