Each time after grocery shopping, I’d have bags and bags full of groceries. I’d go to put the groceries away and in order to make room for them, I’d throw out all the bad stuff.
Celery that had gotten too old, a half a jar of pepperchini’s, a half a head of lettuce, half a loaf of bread that had gotten hard, another couple of jars of food, and the list would go on and on. The trash can would get so full, I’d have my kids take it. As I was throwing things away, I thought of all the people who would eat this food because they had no food.
Week after week, I’d throw away food and fill up the garbage can and started feeling guilty. Some food was okay to eat, some probably not, but the point is, I asked myself how I could prevent myself from doing this week in and week out?
At first, it wasn’t really even about the money. It was about consciously making a decision to stop throwing out so much; to stop being so wasteful. So instead of going to the store every week when I thought I was supposed to, and having been inspired by the TV show on Food Network, “Chopped,” I decided to play it myself and this one simple trick saves me $100+/m in groceries idea was born!
Simple Trick Saves Me $100+/m in Groceries
At first, the kids and I looked at our pantry, fridge, and freezer thinking of who could come up with the cleverest meals, making an oath not to go shopping until we were truly out of food. The first time, it lasted 2 days and I was done with that game. LOL.
But as I continued the game, each time, it got easier and easier. The last time I did it, to my surprise, I went 11 days without going to the store! I don’t even know how that is possible! That’s almost 2 weeks.
A few good tips:
When you do go to the store, be sure to look in your pantry and fridge and get the ingredients that you know you can make something with. Let’s say you have cream of chicken soup, flour or Bisquick, and chicken but no veggies. Grab some veggies at the store to make a meal, Chicken Pot Pie. Or if you have everything to make spaghetti except the noodles, grab some, so that you are creating more meals so very easily.
Be creative. Those hard bread pieces can be used as croutons for salad. The last of the mayo can be used to make a tartar sauce for fish. Have bananas getting brown? Make banana bread. Cream cheese going bad? Make Wonton Poppers.
Be careful in the winters when playing. You don’t want to starve to death because you got snowed in and couldn’t get to the store, so just use your common sense there and do what is best for your family.
Use your freezer. If you make a big batch of something and don’t want to waste it and can’t eat it quickly enough, freeze it. Those meals can come in handy at the end of the month when you are playing the game.
Play the game often. You can choose to play this game weekly or monthly. I tend to do it monthly because I just don’t have the willpower to play weekly, but perhaps if you did it weekly, you could commit to 1-2 days a week every week; whatever works best for your family. You don’t want to feel deprived, or you won’t stick with it. So be sure to play in moderation.
By doing this, our family has saved no less than $125/month and the most ever to date has been $300/month during that 11 day no shopping month.
It also has helped with the kids whining. “There’s nothing to eat,” they say. Well, look around and figure out something to make! It’s that simple.
In a lot of ways this idea has helped us, not only as a game, but it saves us quite a bit of money each month. Instead of going grocery shopping 4 times a month, I usually only go 2 times now. Just be sure to buy extra bread and milk, those staples you need. I like to buy extra bread for the kids and freeze it.
For the milk, we don’t open the ones we are not using. What’s the difference of the milk sitting unopened in my fridge or in the store’s fridge? As long as we drink it before its expiration, we are fine. I have heard you can freeze milk, just haven’t actually tried it….or if you need milk for a recipe, you can always buy canned milk to have on hand in a pinch as it’s shelf stable.