If you are just tuning in to the series this is what you’ve missed as far as tasks:
#1 – Create Short and Long Term Goals
#2 – Make a Budget
#3 – Make a List of Highest Priced and Most Used Items
#4 – Create a Low Inventory List and Maintain It
#5 – Create a Sensible Stockpile
$6 – Learn How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan
#7 – Keep an Organized Kitchen
And now we are on #8. Up until this point, I’ve given you some little tasks to do to help you save money long-term. We are now going to move on to some ways we can change the way we live/shop to help you save some money.
When I asked what was something that you’d like to save money on, the top answer overall was groceries. We are all looking for ways to save on produce, meat and just food in general. Some of you also lump household items in that category, as well. We want lower prices, hot coupons, etc. And while we can find those deals and coupons there’s also something we can do in the meantime to stretch our dollars farther—and that’s to waste less of what we buy!
This really hits home to most of us when we go to clean out our fridge, freezer and our pantries. We have canned goods that expired months before. We left open a bag of chips that now taste stale. And our produce drawer looks like we are operating our own mold factory.
But moving forward, we waste less! And here are some tips on how to do that:
1) Set limits on snacks and cereal. Instead of having 5 bags of chips and cereal boxes open with the potential to go stale, only allow 3. Buy yourself 3 “chip clips” that are magnetic. If there’s a clip on the fridge, you can open a new bag of chips. If you already see 3 boxes of cereal open, no more should be broken into.
2) Set a day once a quarter where you go through your pantry and look for “soon expiring” foods. (To make it easy, do it on the first day of every new season; Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter) Keep a separate shelf in your pantry for these foods and work them into your weekly menu plan.
3) Set one day a week (preferably the day before garbage night) and go through your fridge looking for things that need to be used. Make a list on the fridge and have your family eat those things on the list first. Work everything else into your menu plan. Don’t let yourself get down if something spoiled. Just make a mental note to either not buy so much of those types of items or to do better next time.
4) Invest in storage containers so you can extend the life of your produce. These are the ones I recommend:
*Rubbermaid Produce Savers – Great for extending the life of your blueberries, strawberries, lettuce, watermelon, etc.
*Avocado Keeper – I’ve had half avocados in these for several days without them turning brown.
5) Keep a separate area in your fridge for leftovers. Do not let them get pushed to the back of your fridge! Try to use them for lunches or turn them into a new meal by adding a few ingredients.
6) Organize your freezer! If you open your freezer and don’t have a clue what’s in there, chances are things are going to become frost-bitten and forgot about.
7) Label your foods – I know you think you’ll know what something is later when you first freeze it but trust me, you may not! Date and label everything. Same goes for half-used jars of things like spaghetti sauce in your fridge. Take a Sharpie and put the date you used it on the lid so you can try to finish using it before it goes bad. Some dips I buy say “use within 7 days of opening”–label those types of things, as well.
8) Take less when you dish up your dinner plates. You really shouldn’t force yourself to eat everything if you piled a plate up too high. Instead, get in the habit of taking a smaller portion and only going back for “seconds” after you’ve waited a few minutes.
9) Water Bottles – consider adding a water purifier to your tap, buying a water pitcher with filtration or ordering water delivery to reduce waste on them.
That should cover the waste factor on most food items. Moving on to household items:
1) Try to cut back on the amount of shampoo/laundry detergent, etc that you use. If you use a quarter-sized amount of shampoo, make it a nickle size and see if it has similar results. Often, we really do use more than we need. Same goes for laundry soap. Cut back until you find that point where quality is almost lost and stop there.
2) Kleenex – Teach your little kids that a Kleenex can be used more than one swipe when they have a cold. For allergies with minor sniffles, consider using a handkerchief.
3) Medicines – often times we take Tylenol for a headache when we are truly just dehydrated. Before you swallow some Tylenol, drink a glass of water. For allergies, try sipping on some hot tea first.
4) Paper Towels – So many have become papertowelaholics using them for every tiny little spill. You can read my post on how to cut-back on paper towels.
5) Ziploc Bags – Instead of using these for school lunches, invest in some Ziploc Divided Containers. I’ve used these for the past 3 years and love them! I rarely use sandwich bags for lunches now. For snacks on the go, invest in reusable sandwich bags. For freezer cooking, switch larger things to reusable freezer-safe containers.
These are just some of the ways to save you money on grocery/household items. Just keep looking for more and more ways to use less and keep cutting back on the amounts of the things you do use.
1) Set limits on snacks/cereal.
2) Keep tabs on foods in your freezer/fridge/pantry with tips I provided.
3) Keep your fridge/freezer organized and foods labeled.
4) Invest in storage containers to extend the life of your produce.
5) Use your leftovers!
6) Take smaller portions at dinnertime and go back for seconds, if need be.
7) Continually use less of things and look for alternatives to help you reduce waste.
How Does This Save Me Money?
1) By making sure we use the food we have, it will reduce our grocery bills long-term.
2) We won’t need to buy our household items as often if we cut-back on our current usage. We often use too much!
3) Our food won’t be spoiling or expiring as we’ll be working them into our meal plans. We’ll also extend the life of our produce so we aren’t throwing money away because it’s not used in time.
While we can keep looking for those deals and coupons, wasting less of the products we buy and cutting back on over-usage will help us save money along the way. Sometimes we just have to change our habits and our lifestyle a little to save a bit more money! Stay tuned for more in this series next week!