It should be obvious by now that I love food. I love finding, growing, preparing and eating it. But one of the things I don’t love is the cost of all that food so I”m always on the hunt for ways to save.
If taken in all at once, ways to save money on food can be exhausting and overwhelming. So let’s not! I am all about the baby steps in life and today we will chat a bit about one of the easiest, but overlooked things you can do to save money and make great at home meals. That would be to shop your shelves and figure out what you have!
I don’t know about you but when I see a staple I know will keep for awhile on sale and the budget allows, I buy, buy, buy. This is great but up until recently, those cheap staples just sat, sat, sat. Buying food I will not use does not save me money and in fact, does the opposite. So I took the challenge to figure out what is in my kitchen and use it up!
How do you do this? In my case you procrastinate for an hour then pull yourself to the kitchen and begin:) Dig into the pantry and pull out every single item you have (and give the shelves a wipe down while you are there!) and then make a list of everything in there and keep in a central location (I have mine taped to the shelf inside and adjust when I use/add). You could use an online resource (Excel, Word doc or any other resource you prefer) and avoid all the messy, crossing out that will happen. It is just important to find a method that works for you, that you know you can commit to and will use and update. Do the same for the refrigerator and freezer. Move the items that need to get used very soon front and center and make an effort to use them as soon as possible. Throw out anything that can double as a science experiment or is hard as a rock. Find a way to list out what is there (again I use pen and paper and attach to the refrigerator) and make sure to update and most of all use it!! You worked for the money and bought all that food, don’t let it go to waste!
Now that you actually know what is lurking in the kitchen of yours comes the fun part-figuring out what to do with it all! If you found you have a lot of items that are close to expiring, why not have a “random” night where you unload as many of the items as you can, prepare/heat what needs it, add some other additional fixings/ingredients to tie it together and let everyone you are feeding do a “DIY” dinner night. Who knows you may end up finding a new favorite food combo you had no idea even existed!
Once you have mastered what is in the kitchen and used up what you could you can now meal plan and shop with a big head start as you actually know what you have and can then figure out what you need before you get to the stores and are lured in by the signs and sales and impulse purchases. Meal planning and list planning are conversations for another day, so let’s just give ourself a BIG pat on the back for taking back the kitchen and laying some important ground work for good savings, good shopping and most importantly, good eating!!
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