Make the most of leftovers

Are You Wasting Half Your Grocery Budget?

by Jill Cooper


One of the easiest ways to save money on your grocery bill starts before you even leave the house. It's no extra work, you don't have to deprive yourself of anything and you don't have to clip any coupons. What is it? Stop wasting food.

On average, most families throw out 50% of the food they buy. If you have trouble believing that, then watch your family's eating habits for the next few days. How many times did your child eat only half of his lunch or dinner or drink only half of his glass of milk or juice? How much food gets thrown away when you wash dishes? How many fruits and vegetables have rotted and been tossed? How much meat have you thrown away because it is freezer burned? And what about those leftovers in the fridge or the cartons of sour milk?

If this is you, do you realize if you spend $400 a month on groceries you are literally throwing $200 of it into the trash? What would you think if someone you knew took two $100 bills and threw them away? That would make dumpster divers out of the most genteel among us.

Here are some ideas on how to help you to stop the waste:

  1. Only fill a child's (or adult's) glass half full if they normally don't drink it all. You can always give them more when that is gone. If they do have leftover milk or juice at the end of the meal, put it in the fridge for them to finish at another time.

  2. When you get ready to cook a piece of meat like a roast or chicken, plan ahead. For example, when I take a roast out to thaw, I don't think, "Ok, we'll have roast and mashed potatoes tonight." But I think, "I will have roast and mashed potatoes tonight, Bar-B-Q beef tomorrow and beef and noodles the next night." That way, you won't find yourself three days later gazing guiltily at that dying leftover roast thinking, "I really should do something with this but what?" and then end up throwing it out a week later.

  3. Check your fridge the night before you go to the grocery store. That way, you can plan your menus and choose what to buy based on the leftovers you have.

  4. If all else fails, make one night a week as leftover night. That's when you set out all your odds and ends of leftovers for everyone to polish off. This is especially good if you do it the night before you buy groceries because this leaves your fridge empty for the new things you are buying tomorrow.

Jill Cooper raised two teenagers alone on $500 a month income after becoming disabled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She is the author of Dining On A Dime, Eat Better Spend Less. To read more of Jill's articles and for free tips and recipes, visit LivingOnADime.com/.

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