Whether you live on your own or with a big family, planning dinners and making sure you have everything on hand can be challenging. This often means that food ends up in the bin, partly due to bad menu planning. In fact, research says that most food waste occurs at consumer level. And wasting food means wasting money. Here are a few tips that will help you save time and money!
Many home cooks know that you don’t have to follow a recipe to a tee. Most ingredients can be substituted for another. Especially when ingredients are expensive or difficult to find in your area. Saffron, for instance, is a very expensive ingredient. If needed, it can be substituted with turmeric, which will provide a similar flavor and color. If you are not confident enough to make substitutes, do a quick search on the internet and you will find a wealth of ingredients you can use as a back-up!
Get creative with leftovers. If you have leftover veggies from the previous night’s dinner, then try to think of a way you can incorporate it in another meal. The same for meat cuts. Casseroles and stews are a great (and tasty) way to include different kinds of vegetables and meats in one meal.
When it comes to preparedness, the freezer is your best friend. Veggies that usually have a short shelf life can be frozen, so you will always have them on hand. Make sure to label all frozen food properly. If you freeze cooked meals, this will also help you defrost the correct item in the future. You don’t want to defrost spaghetti bolognese, only to find out it was vegetable soup all along!
When you go shopping, make sure to go prepared. We all know that if you walk into a store without a shopping list you end up buying way more than you need. If you buy too many fresh food items, they are bound to spoil before you get to use it. The other scenario is that we forget what we actually went shopping for. If you work from a recipe, read through it beforehand and make sure you have everything. Compile a list of ingredients you don’t have, and only buy the items on your list.
Many times, when we go shopping, we end up buying duplicates. So before you go shopping, check your pantry to see what you already have on hand. If you buy too much of one ingredient, it can go off before you even get to open it.
Don’t buy everything in bulk. Especially if you only cook for a few people. Things you can buy in bulk are products with a long shelf life, or those products that can be stored in the freezer. Canned goods, rice, beans, and dried pasta will keep well in the pantry. Products like flour, butter, and certain cheeses can be frozen for up to three months. So don’t just buy in bulk because you save money in the moment. If you end up throwing food away, you didn’t save at all.
What are your money-saving tips? Tell us in the comments below!