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Top tips for saving food and money at home

We're always getting amazing feedback from our community of members, so it seemed high time to share some of the great tips for being thrifty around the kitchen!

These tips won't just save you money, but you'll also be reducing the amount of food waste you produce, which is a massive issue when it comes to keeping our carbon footprints as small as possible.

If you've got some great tips of your own, be sure to let us know in the comments below!


Shopping

  • Plan your meals: Creating a quick view menu guide makes food planning and shopping easier. It also means we eat better foods and more interesting meals.
  • Buy in bulk: Finding a good bulk food co-op reduces packaging wastes, supports local economies and makes you more aware of the food cycle.
  • Say no to produce bags: Don't put fruit and vegetables in plastic produce bags. Instead, buy them loose or make your own reusable produce bags. Alternatively, take a box or crate when shopping to help transport your produce easily and sustainably. Most greengrocers have boxes and crates out back if you ask!

  • Set a goal: Challenge yourself to avoid throwing away food for a week, and follow our top tips for using up scraps and leftovers in order to be victorious!
  • Shop locally! Less transport time not only means fewer food miles, but also prevents food from spoiling before you can get it into the kitchen. Plus, you'll be supporting local growers.
  • Eat with the seasons: seasonal produce is usually cheaper and locally sourced, rather than imported. Learn about why this matters here.

Meal planning

  • Make a weekly or fortnightly menu to avoid a situation where you're buying things "just in case" (which usually ends up with a lot of fruit and veg being thrown out at the end of the week). 1 Million Women member Sharon says, "Now that I know what I'm going to cook every day, and only shop for what I need, it's cheaper and everything gets eaten. It's also a lot less stressful as there's no more - 'what are we going to have for dinner tonight?' panic."
  • Write a shopping list: Keep a handy list stuck on your fridge, on the pantry cupboard or wherever else you'll see it and remember to add to it. Always check the cupboard before you go out to the shops ti avoid the situation where you end up with three jars of marmalade and three dozen potatoes!
  • Plan for leftovers: Make more than you know you'll need when you make a batch of pasta sauce, curry or stir-fry, then work these leftovers into your meal plan to ensure they don't get wasted.
  • Keep a list of quick easy-to-prepare meals on hand that use variable ingredients. This is a good prompt when feeling too tired for meal preparation or thinking creatively. It helps avoid a fast food purchase and uses up bits and pieces that might otherwise be wasted. Ideal recipes include soups, pasta sauces, stir-fries and curries.

Organisation

  • Have a dig around in the back of your cupboard for anything you've been neglecting: a tin of bamboo shoots, a packet of wholegrain pasta, a jar of cherries. Work out how you can use these items up before you buy even more!
  • Get organised: Set aside the time to do a big clean-out of your fridge, freezer and pantry. Work out what you have and don't have, identify which staples you're missing, and work out how to put neglected items to good use.

  • Buy-nothing challenge: See how many days you can go without buying anything new for the kitchen. You might surprise yourself with how thrifty you can be! This is a great way to use up food before going away.

Leftovers and food waste

  • Store leftovers securely: Divide up all of the evening meals equally onto both dinner plates and storage containers, then the storage containers either go in freezer or the fridge for a quick mid-week meal or even a take-to-work lunch. Nothing is left in the cooking pot (and thus wasted).
  • Place leftovers at the front of the fridge: this way anyone who goes hunting for a quick meal or a midnight snack will see what needs to be used up.
  • Freeze your bread: Buy fresh bread, slice and freeze in a fabric or reusable plastic bag. This way you can defrost portions as you need them (it doesn't take long to defrost). This prevents the bread from going stale or mouldy.
  • Eat ugly food! Don't throw something out just because it has a little brown patch on it, or is a little bruised. Most of the food is still just as healthy and delicious, even if it doesn't look as nice.
  • Garden with food scraps: If you don't have a compost bin you can still put peelings, outside leaves from lettuce, cabbage, etc. eggshells and banana skins directly on your garden. Don't dispose of meat or fish scraps this way, however! Also, don't ditch that last bit of milk in a bottle - top it up with water and give it to your plants (especially gardenias) - they love the traces of magnesium and calcium.
  • Save your scraps for stock and soups: broccoli/cauliflower stems, celery tops and other "scraps" can be turned into veggie stock or soup.

Growing your own/sharing

  • Be proud of your work: People grow their own food tend to become more conscious of not wasting it. With all the effort that goes into planting and cultivating comes a greater awareness about where food comes from, it forces you to become more creative about how to use any excess! All of this helps to reduce overall waste in the long run, not to mention that nothing tastes better than homegrown.
  • Share with your friends and neighbours: swap some apples for backyard eggs, and trade some rosemary for a jar of your neighbour's honey! You can also investigate whether there's a Crop and Swap (or similar) group in your local area, or even a community garden/farm.

What are you awesome ideas for saving food and money in the kitchen? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

READ THIS NEXT: Are Farmers Markets & Food Stalls Better At Avoiding Waste Than Supermarkets?

Images: Shutterstock and Unsplash

1 Million Women is more than our name, it's our goal! We're building a movement of strong, inspirational women acting on climate change by leading low-carbon lives. To make sure that our message has an impact, we need more women adding their voice. We need to be louder. Joining us online means your voice and actions can be counted. We need you.


Steph Newman Former Social Media Assistant Suggest an article Send us an email

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