This post is all about how I save money without couponing. Don't get me wrong, I do coupon, but hey, that's not enough. This post is all about how I keep from spending money on food in the first place. One way to save money is don't wast food! Yup, that's what I want to talk about. And I am not a member of the clean your plate club. I don't think that it's healthy to eat stuff when you are not hungry just because you don't want to waste it. I am just trying to make my groceries last a bit longer so I don't have to shop as often. And hey, that's tip #1
1. Don't shop every week! Why, because you will buy more food. Sounds a bit silly, right? But I'm serious. When I shop I buy all kinds of extra stuff that is not on my list. I saw something new, or hubby's favorite doughnuts were on sale, I wanted to try a new cereal. But all those extra's add up. If only shop every other week there are less opportunities for me to buy extra food.
2. Eat those leftovers! I used to be really bad at eating leftovers. I would take home half my place from a restaurant because portion sizes are huge, or I would make a recipe at home that was for 6 people and there are only 2 of us. Well, I wasn't big on eating the food after it sat for 24 hours, so in the trash it went.
But no more! I make it a point to eat my leftovers in the next day or two. If my leftovers are not enough for a full meal I will whip up a salad or some other complimentary side to go with it. And I try to look at what is already open to plan my next meal instead of making something completely new and opening a bunch of new jars. Why make open a new can of soup when there is meatloaf in the fridge. (FYI, there is almost never left over meatloaf in my house. I make a killer meatloaf that my hubby devours.)
3. Turn your little bits of food into something else. No one wants to make a sandwich with those heels of bread, right?
And the last 2 slices of sourdough hubby bought a the farmers market went stale. (Happens all the time)
No problem. Put them in the blender and make bread crumbs. Seal them up in a freezer bag and they last for weeks. If my recipe calls for Italian bread crumbs, I just add that Italian herb seasoning to them. I never have to buy bread crumbs again.
Got half a cucumber from last night's salad?
I chop it up and take it to work for afternoon snack. Some lemon and chili powered make the cucumber yummy. My co-workers will love it too. I also used sliced cucumber and fruit to make my own flavored waters. I put the slices in a glass pitcher, fill with water, an stick them into the fridge for an hour. Yummy and low cal. Plus I don't have to buy soda.
I've always got a ton of blue cheese in the fridge because Hubby loves the stuff.
So I make a healthier homemade dressing with some unflavored yogurt, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. If veggies starting to look wilty I make a smoothie and throw them in with the fruit. Or pop them in the blender with fresh tomatoes for a healthy soup. Carrots, celery, cabbage and squash are great to add to soup. The leftover half of a Zucchini also gets shredded to go into my baked goods. Zucchini muffins anyone?
If I have chili in the fridge left over from chili dogs, I make loaded baked potatoes the next night. Beans and rice can be a burrito, or add cheese and chips for nachos. The point is to use up what's open before I open something new. This may take a little bit of planning on my part because I have to have hot dogs and potatoes in the house, but it saves me from have to do loads of cooking so it all balances in the end.
4. Freeze it! The freezer is my best friend. I'm even considering buying a stand alone freezer. (Maybe with all the money I'm saving?) I always get overenthusiastic about buying strawberries, and hubby doesn't like them. So I slice half the strawberries I buy and freeze them for later. They make great smoothies!
And I have tons of veggies all at once from my garden. I can only give so many away to the neighbors so
I freeze them for later use. Berries, banana, spinach, kale, pineapple, peas, and tomatoes freeze very well. The trick with freezing fruit is to freeze them spread out on a baking sheet and freeze them before I put them into a bag, that way they don't end up a big frozen block. For bananas I peal and slice them before freezing them on a baking tray to make using them easier. Frozen berries can go into my morning oatmeal before I put it in the microwave, or into yogurt before I leave for work so they are defrosted by the time I get there. Everything else can go into smoothies or get defrosted for use in a recipe later.
Fresh herbs can be frozen too. I chop them up and put them in ice cube trays with olive oil. When they are frozen i pop them out and put them in freezer bags with labels. Each cube is about 1 tablespoon.
I blanch tomatoes and peal the skins before I freeze them. It's a good idea to blanch sliced zucchini, although I don't blanch zucchini if I shred it before freezing it. I squeeze oranges and lemons and freeze the juice the same way. Just make sure to label and date everything so you know what it is later. And I can do this with my coffee too. Freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays, then put the coffee cubes in the blender for my own frozen treat, or add to milk for iced coffee.
5. Buy smart in bulk. What is the point of buying in bulk to save money if you don't eat it? Some things I don't need in large quantities because we just won't eat that much, and not everything freezes well. Like bagels. My hubby used to always buy the dozen at Costco, and I was forever throwing out moldy bagels from the fridge. And they don't freeze well (I tried, and they always tasted funny when we defrost them). So I started buying 4 packs of bagels from Fresh and Easy for $2.29. A dozen bagels at Costco are like $4.99, so I'm actually saving over $2. And if we don't eat all four, then I'm only tossing 1 or 2 moldy bagels, not 10. Also, studies showed that people who buy lots food in bulk tend to eat larger portions of food because they don't want to waste it.
So what do I buy in bulk? Things we eat a lot, like cheese for one.
Hubby loves cheddar cheese, especially shredded, just as a snack. So I buy the bricks of cheese at Costco, and I picked up these shredder containers at Ikea that have lids.
Shred away, and when it's full pop the lid on and put it in the fridge. Way cheaper than buying the already shredded stuff. Remember to keep the rest of the block of cheese in an air tight container so it won't get moldy.
I also buy baking supplies in bulk. You can get 25 lbs of flour for like $7.00, and sugar never goes bad so I buy that in bulk too. Canned beans and veggies are also a good buy. Not in that enormous single can, but in the packs of 6-12 cans since they have a long shelf life. And oatmeal. Instead of buy the single serving instant kind, I buy the large box of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats.
I put a measuring scoop inside the box so I can scoop out the perfect portion every time without having to look through drawers for my measuring cup.
So those are my tips without couponing. I hope they help you as much as they helped me!