Do you ever look at your monthly expenses and realize how much money you spend on food? Better yet, do you have any idea of how much money you are probably wasting by letting food go bad in both your refrigerator and pantry?!?!? I can tell you from experience, that before we really started tracking our expenses, we were spending an obscene amount of money on food. This was particularly true with how much food (and money) we were throwing away, on a regular basis, by not paying attention to what we had before we bought more food. We would spend a ton of money at the grocery store, put everything in a cabinet or at the back of the fridge, and then turn around and throw it in the garbage because we accidentally let it expire. This is total craziness! With a little bit of intentionally, you can stop doing this and start spending less on your monthly food bill.
Here are 5 easy tips to stop the insanity:
1. Take a quick survey of what you have in both your fridge AND your pantry. The first obvious step is to get rid of everything that is bad. Try putting things that will expire soon (milk, yogurts, etc) towards the front, so you make sure and use them immediately. This is also the perfect opportunity to give those shelves a good scrubbing, if you are feeling overly ambitious. 🙂
2. Once you have cleaned everything out, try to organize and group like items together (all of the pastas together, all of the sauces together, etc…). You will probably start to notice that you have multiples of items that you didn’t even know you had – lol! As you know from my previous post, this is more than likely true for many rooms of your home. Here is a post that you may find helpful, which talks about clearing out your cabinets (in general) by grouping like items together. I really feel passionately about this, because most people have so much more stuff than they need!!! I believe that this equally applies to your refrigerator and pantry. You will find multiple mayonnaise containers, multiple bottles of half used salad dressings, multiple bottles of barbecue sauces…….you get the point. Not only are you spending extra money by re-purchasing items, but they are also taking up so much space! Do yourself a favor, and clean out this stuff right now! This will help you see what all you actually have, and easily identify any gaps. I know that it would be super easy to just run to the store and grab those gap items right now, however, please resist the urge for the purpose of this exercise. 🙂
3. So, it has finally been brought to your attention of what food items you currently own. Now, make a firm commitment to not spend any money on food for a specific period of time (until you eat all of those items). Even if it is just for a day or two, make the commitment. You will be surprised at the amount of money you can save over the course of just a few days. This will force you to get creative and see what all you could make with what you have. I am willing to bet you that the majority of people could last several days, if not longer, by just living off of their pantry and fridge. Even if you only last two days, think of how much money you didn’t spend on lunches and dinners. A lot of times, couples spend $20-30 a meal when they go out to eat. This easily equates to $40-$60 savings, not including breakfasts and lunches, that you didn’t spend in just 48 hours. Let’s take this a step further. Imagine if you did this for an entire week. Think of what you could do with that extra money, if you lived your life with a little intentionality. Even if you typically just grab fast food, you still aren’t spending the extra money, which can really add up in the long run. 🙂
4. Here is the most important part. You need to make an actual meal plan of the items that you are going to make. I know that this may seem boring, but this will really help you plan out your week. Don’t forget to go through those freezers for any meats that you may have stored and forgotten about. Survey what you own and have fun planning what you could make from your current stock. 🙂 Look on Pinterest pages, dust off one of those cookbooks or turn on Food Network. Plan an Italian night with any pastas and tomato sauces that are in your possession, or make a delicious crock pot meal with some of the meat that has been in your freezer forever. Have a complete “Breakfast for Dinner” night, if you have a lot of eggs and pancake mix remaining. If you have some leftover onions and peppers, throw in some extra cheese and make omelettes. When you make a commitment to using everything you own, you will be surprised with how many meals you can come up with. You first, though, HAVE TO ORGANIZE TO KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE! It seems like a lot of work, but you will be able to go MUCH LONGER without buying any food if you are organized. Don’t forget to make this a fun exercise, and put things on your nice dishes. Just because you are eating up your pantry, doesn’t mean your food can’t look pretty. 🙂
5. Stick to the plan (I am not going to lie – this is going to be tough at first). Even better, try to go even longer than you originally intended. I am a huge fan of cleaning out stuff to clear up space, however, I am not a fan of wasting money. Please don’t throw away food that is still good. If you find a ton of non-perishable items that you refuse to cook, please take them to a food kitchen and donate them.
Call To Action – I want to challenge you to use as much stuff as you possibly can in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. I am talking about clearing out everything, particularly anything that has been around for a long period of time. You more than likely enjoy eating the item, or you wouldn’t have bought it in the first place (I hope). Since you have already spent money on the food items, it is now time to ENJOY everything with your family and spend some time around the table!!! 🙂
I would love to hear from you guys and see how long you have been able to go without spending money on food. I would also love to hear what recipes are your favorites! As I said above, even if you can only go a few days, you will see a nice bump in your monthly budget from “living off of the land.” Then, you can put that money towards something that you really enjoy. For me, it is pictures and baby clothes (yes, I know that many of you think this is odd, but I love them). 🙂 Whatever you are in to, wouldn’t it be nice to have more of what you love by not wasting money on things that you really don’t care about???
Once you complete this exercise, you should now have everything nice and empty. This is the perfect time to clean before you go out and buy more items. Once you do go grocery shopping again, you will have earned a fresh start, where it will be easy to get organized! 🙂 Stay tuned for future posts, where we take a deeper dive on organizing your now empty pantry. Yay!!!!
Thanks for reading, and Good Luck!!!! 🙂