How to Stop Wasting Food

How much food do you throw away because of improper planning?  During this process of Selling Our Home,  we have been doing all we can to cut corners.  I started noticing how much food we were wasting and we started a mission to stop throwing our money away! 

Here is how our family tries to use everything that we buy.

Each month, I start with a menu plan.  There are tons of free printables on the internet and Pinterest.  I take an inventory of what we already have and purchase only what I need for the month's meals.  We do half of our shopping at Trader Joe's and the other at Sam's Club.

 With just about an hour of prep work, you can have your pantry and freezer stocked!  I showed you how I stretched my fruit and veggies in this post.

When we get home from the store, I separate out my items. For instance, my large bag of almonds are stored in air tight jars.  You can use canning jars, but I also use old spaghetti sauce jars.

Here's a tip! We are trying to watch what we eat and love Fitness Pal!  We use their app on our phones.  All you have to do is scan the bar code and it enters in your serving size along with the calorie and nutrition info!  Genius!!  

I cut out the bar codes from the packaging and make sure they are visible for easy scanning.

Some of you don't know, but my boys are HUGE.  My oldest's height projection is supposed to be 6'7".  6  Foot 7 y'all!  And my youngest isn't far behind! Being huge boys, their appetites match their size, so meat is where we really need to stretch and $ave.

 I buy the larger tubes of sausage from Sam's.  At $5 each, it's much more economical than the price at the local store and it freezes well.

We measure out the serving size (remember, being healthy) and freeze them making sure to mark the date.  *Tip* Make sure to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.

The best part is, you can break off only what you need as defrost overnight.

We measure all our meats and lay them flat in the freezer.  In the photo above, you can see our chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, and pork loin steaks.

 We trim all the fat and place them in the bags for each serving size.  This is similar to a once a month cooking method minus all the prep.  We do those methods as well, but find it just as easy to take out what you are eating the night before and let it defrost in the fridge.  Most of our meal prep is about 20-30 minutes.

We keep all our fat trimmings from the chicken and freeze them to make chicken broth.

*Tip* You can freeze all your vegetable scraps as well.  I even keep my rotisserie carcass and add that to the freezer bag.  When your freezer bag is full, make some broth.  

Strain the broth and let it cool fully.  I skim the fat off the top before I store it to save on calories.  I've  even frozen them in cupcake pans for 1/2 cup servings.  Just pull out how much the recipe calls for.  

Nothing is wasted!

We also freeze our beans.  Dry bean are so much cheaper and you can't mess them up!  Divide one meals worth into freezer bags, lay flat and freeze them.  They defrost overnight.

One of my favorite homemade cookie recipes is too tempting to have around in a large batch.  I make the cookies per the recipe, roll them into meatball size and freeze on a cookies sheet.

Then I transfer them to a freezer bag with the cooking instructions.  When we want a cookie, all we have to do is take out what we'll eat and bake them.  This is so helpful to curb those temptations.

I've been baking my own breads, too.  Again, great recipes on Pinterest.  One recipe I found from The Hungry Mouse makes two loaves.  This lasts us a week and there's nothing better than fresh from the oven bread!!

Our Sunday tradition is Pizza and Movie day.  At Sam's, you can go to the snack counter and purchase a box of their frozen pizza dough.  20 dough balls for about $15 bucks. We buy the big pack of pepperoni and freeze them into individual baggies.  

*Tip* We keep all the smaller quart size baggies in a gallon freezer bag.  We've minimized lots of freezer burn since doing this.

The Hunk also makes his own pizza sauce.  We buy a huge can of crushed tomatoes for $3.50, add the spices he likes, divides them into freezer bags and it lasts us months.  

These pizzas are a fun, delicious family tradition!

Other homemade items that help us save money:

Baked oatmeal - lasts all week.

Homemade Granola - store in an airtight container for 2 weeks.

Homemade granola bars - stores for.... who knows, they're usually gone in a few days!

Not pictured: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce - healthier and cheaper than the store brand(and freezes well too!)

Each month, we budget $400 for groceries, and $200 for Sam's which includes household items we buy in bulk as well as our food purchases.

There are so many tips and tricks that can help you stretch your grocery dollar.  We're constantly looking for ways to cut that bill, especially with ravenous boys to feed, but since implementing these tricks, we've noticed there's a lot more food in our pantry and freezer at the end of the month!

What are your tips and tricks for stretching your family's food budget?

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