Friday, March 7, 2014

Financial Friday: Not Wasting Food

While Matt and I are not in dire financial straits, I still have been looking for ways to cut costs wherever we can lately because the saver gene (which I inherited from my mom) just will not quit griping at me that we're spending too much on the basic things every month (cell phone, utilities, food, etc.).

I've been thinking a LOT since I read this post about not wasting food that how every time we throw food away, it's like throwing dollar bills in the trash. Since I took up couponing a couple years ago, I've been pretty good at saving money while actually at the grocery store, but I've recently realized that I waste hundreds of dollars a year because we throw away so much food.

Last week, I started cleaning out our fridge for the first time in a couple months, and I had to throw away a ton---stacks of Tupperware containers containing leftovers from who-knows-when, shriveled up produce that had been hiding away in the bottom drawer, cartons of cream that were far past their expiration date...

When all was said and done, I filled almost half of a large trash bag just full of food, including about a pound of chicken that had gone bad from being left in the fridge too long.

It was disheartening to realize that with all that food in the trash, I had easily just thrown away at least $15-20 worth of groceries. The scary thing is that it was probably the first time I've really stopped and thought about how much I've just gotten used to throwing a ton away--if it hadn't been for that blog post, the amount we'd wasted probably wouldn't have even phased me, if I'm being honest.

Along with my resolution not to eat sugar at all this week (which I've kept!), I set off to the grocery store with a plan of attack last Saturday---I was only going to buy things that I could commit to using before they went bad, and if I was unsure how I was going to use something, I didn't buy it.

We've also been spacing out our meals better so that we're always finishing up the leftovers (whereas before, we'd often let many of them go to waste because they'd be replaced quickly with other leftovers that were fresher).

I've found that with this goal in mind constantly of not wasting food, I've found myself working a LOT more produce into our diets (mostly because I know if I don't, it will quickly spoil, and that would easily amount to another $10 or $15 of waste). I've also discovered myself finally making good on that February goal of creating weekly menus because I've HAD to plan out our meals better in order to use up what we already have.

I went shopping for all this stuff last Saturday, and I'm pleased to say that it looks like nothing will be going to waste if we keep on at it (knock on wood). And I'm pretty sure that if I continue to plan out our food better, I'll also start spending less at the grocery store too because I'll know that I can only buy what we'll use for sure, which leads to me buying less (and which will amount to even more saving!). This receipt is from my trip last weekend, and I think it's safe to say that this food will be good to last us at least two weeks, and when I go back to shop again, I'll probably only have to buy some more produce and other fresh items like milk and eggs, which won't amount to more than $30.

So all in all, we might end up spending only about $115 or so on groceries this month for the two of us, which is a far cry better than the $200 or so I've been spending on average.

What are your tricks for making sure you don't waste food?


  1. We struggled with the exact same thing! Last summer I made a menu board with clothespins for each day of the week. I went through and wrote down several easy meals (sandwiches, boxed pasta, pancakes, etc) on strips of fun paper. I added in the few "cooking" meals I did know how to make at the time and then added in ones for leftovers, fend for yourself, and of course to try something new. For this month, I went through and planned the entire month, making sure to account for leftover nights and did one big shopping trip. Like you, I should only have to go back to get perishable items. It will be awesome. I based mine off of this one
    If you'd like to see mine I can send you a picture on Facebook or something :)

  2. I am SUPER impressed with your food savings! This is something I could definitely use some tips on!! What menu items are you making?

  3. That is one of my big goals as well, to finish my menu plans. I was doing it bit since moving I have not done it. It is by far the best way to shop, plan meals and save money. $200 is pretty impressive. I thought that is how much we were spending but when I actually added it up it was more like $400. I looked up average costs for a family of 2 and $400 is actually below average for a family of two. I guess I forget how much prices have gone up and I am still in the price mindset when I started grocery shopping for myself a decade ago. It is interesting to look at national averages and see how you compare. That price includes monthly household items as well for us.

  4. What are your tips on having a grocery bill that low? We budget for $300 a month, but that includes anything we buy from a grocery store (makeup, cleaning products, shampoo, trash bags, etc). Yours might too, but I would love the tips! :)

  5. I know people hate walmart, but I price match there and save a ton of money. I make a menu every week and only buy one weeks worth of groceries, because if I try to do two weeks at a time I waste too much. I don't plan anything for lunches but sandwiches, fruit, leftovers, and yogurt. Eating leftovers for lunch helps us use them more often. I usually do a veggie stir fry each week with whatever veggies I have that need to be used. I still waste a bunch too, but food is so expensive these days.


Thanks so much for leaving a comment! I love reading your thoughts :)

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