I’ve got 3 quick tricks to share with you today. See more in the series here: Part 1, 2, & 3
Saving Trick 1: Never throw food away!!!!
Seems intuitive, right? But if you are honest with yourself, think about how easy it is to let food go to waste.
Example 1: You buy a bunch of veggies, forget about them while they’re in the crisper, and only use half before the other half goes bad and gets tossed.
Example 2: You buy a pizza, which comes with packets of parmesan cheese and red pepper. You only use half the packets and throw the other half away.
There are so many ways that we let food go to waste. Because so much of our budget is allocated toward food products (in the form of groceries and eating out), when I started blogging here I really wanted to make a conscious effort to cut down on any and all forms of food waste!
In the case of Example 1 (above), if I discover that we have fruits or veggies nearing the end of their shelf life, I make a conscious effort to use them! They’re easy to toss into smoothies (I like to make fruit & veggie smoothies, so I might toss in a browning banana and/or some wilting spinach or lettuce….lots of options, so think outside the box!). I also try to incorporate them into meals. If we simply can’t find a way to eat them before they are going to go bad then I will wash and pre-chop them and throw them in the freezer!
In the case of Example 2, I have started saving any/all condiments that come with food from restaurants (side note: obviously we’re trying to reduce our eating out, but we do have a budget for it, so if it fits in your budget then why not stretch it for all its worth?). For pizza, I have saved the packets of parmesan and red pepper flakes. I find its easy to end up having them thrown away, so I’ll open them (1 by 1) and dump them into our container of parmesan or container of red pepper flakes (which we already have anyway). I have done the same thing with salsas from a local Mexcian food restaurant. They have a red salsa and a green salsa. The red salsa gets dumped right into our regular salsa container:
And I will dump the green salsas into a leftover baby food jar (the girls no longer eat baby food, but I always saved their old jars for uses just like this!)
Then I can use them for homemade Mexican food feasts!
I recently did the same exact thing with some small containers of hot mustard and chili oil that came with some Chinese we had bought. The hot mustard was emptied into our spicy brown mustard bottle and I actually have a container of home-made hot chili oil (its just regular EVOO and red pepper flakes) that I made in an old oil bottle (which I repurposed after the oil was gone). So, I dumped the Chinese’s hot chili oil into our container at home.
I realize that a lot of this has to do with eating-out stuff and (again), we’re trying to minimize our amount of eating out. But if you’re going to eat out and you get condiments like this – you might as well put them to use instead of throwing away!!!
(also, side-note…..I didn’t save the little portion containers you see in the pictures, but it occurs to me that I could have and re-used them for things like salad dressing for days I plan to eat “at the office”…..I work from home currently, but this is something I totally would’ve done in the past!)
Saving Trick #2: Buying Bulk
This is super common and I’m sure everyone knows about it already. But we have saved so much money lately on hand soap just by buying a big bulk bottle of it and refilling smaller bottles instead of buying new ones every time we run out.
Saving Trick #3: Make Water Fun!
Hope had posted awhile back about how she has given up her soda addiction in an effort to save money (Go, Hope!) We aren’t big soda drinkers but every once in awhile it slips into our grocery cart. More regularly, though, money has been spent on fruit juices (which is even more expensive than soda, particularly since I always buy the “all natural” kind). You know what’s way cheaper than fruit juice???? Water….with fruit in it!!!
I’ve gotten into the habit of filling up this pitcher daily with water and adding some fruit to it to lightly flavor the water. Some days its a squeeze of a lemon or lime (both currently “in season” and cheap). I’ve also done it with slices of strawberry, slices of orange (shown here), and even slices of watermelon. You can also mix and match flavors! One of my favorites is strawberry-cucumber.
If you stick to “in season” fruits/veggies/herbs (I’ve heard lemon-rosemary water is good), or if you grow your own then its so, so, so inexpensive! And its much more “fun” and enticing than “plain” water. Plus, this has encouraged me to drink more water, in general, which is a good healthy habit to have. You can see the girls’ sippy cups in the back. They’ve gotten into the fruit-flavored water “craze” too! : )
How have you been saving money lately?
Hi, I’m Ashley! Arizonan on paper, Texan at heart. Lover of running, blogging, and all things cheeeeese. Late 30’s, married mother of two, working as a professor at a major university in the southwest. Trying to finally (finally!) pay off that ridiculous 6-digit student loan debt!
it’s always so interesting to me when people say they don’t like plain water. I love water (room temp) and actually hate water with any flavors (always send back in restaurants if they put lemon or line). So it’s so funny that most people say this is the best way to spice up water.
Something wrong with my tastebuds. Actually, now that I think about it I must also be the only one in the world that cant stand avocado
I’m definitely the opposite with water. I want it COLD and although I can drink it plain, I definitely get bored so I like some fruit. You’re probably smart about sending it back at restaurants when they put lemons/limes in it, though. I’ve heard horror stories about the fruit having trace-amounts of feces on them. TRUTH: I worked in restaurants for almost a decade and NEVER did I EVER ONCE wash/rinse a lemon or lime. No one did. (Gross!!!)
Other ways to not waste food that just came to mind….Save old/stale bread to make into homemade croutons! And if you make a big batch of pancakes, you can freeze extras and pop in the toaster for quick weekday breakfasts!
It is so easy to waste food. When I throw food away I mentally think about tossing money in the trash and that helps remind me not to waste. I grocery shop once a week and always use the fresh produce first so it doesn’t go to waste. Towards the end of the week we eat frozen and canned fruits and veggies. My family has also realized we are not big into leftovers. At dinner I just make enough food for that meal and enough for my husband and I to take to lunch the next day and that’s it. I used to make a big batch of something and figure we would eat it throughout the week then we would get sick of it before it was gone
I throw those nearly-wilted veggies into a stockpot and make vegetable soup and then freeze it. My mom is a master and turning leftovers into casseroles. Once you get into the habit, it’s pretty easy to re-purpose the leftovers into “new” meals.
Great idea about the veggie soup! I haven’t done that before but definitely will! I totally agree about repurposing leftovers! It used to be a foreign concept to me but now I think I’m getting pretty good at it! In fact, I generally PLAN to do these (I call them “rollover meals”) because it makes my life easier since the meat is already cooked! Perfect example: Night 1 = grill night. I’ll do grilled chicken breasts, baked potatoes, and corn. Night 2 = use leftover grilled foods and put into some type of casserole by shredding up the leftover chicken breast, cubing the potatoes, and cutting the corn off the cob (sounds like the makings of a good chicken pot pie if other ingredients are also added).
My MIL kept a large freezer container handy and when she had a few green beans left, corn, potatoes, etc. she would put them in the freezer in this container. When the container got full enough…there were veggies for either Chicken Pot Pie or Veggie soup like DC – Kate suggested.
Fantastic idea about the freezer container! I’m going to have to steal this!!!
I hear you on throwing food away, it feels like putting cash directly into the garbage! I’ve really been trying to make sure we use everything up before it goes bad, but still in a week or two I’m making rim shots in the can. At least with veggies I don’t feel like they’re going to waste as those go into the compost pile to use in the garden, so they will be used again.
I used to buy in bulk, but after couponing for so long, I have found out in lots of cases this isn’t the case, if I can pair it with a coupon. I haven’t paid a penny for hand soap in over a year. I also find that lots of stores keep the price per ounce around the exact same amount unless it is on sale.
I love your tip #3!
My only concern with adding the condiments to the containers you already have is I would fear getting mold in the whole batch faster. You never know what it may have been exposed to in the restaurant, as often they sit in large containers exposed to air and next to other open containers leaving the possibility of cross-contamination, that could cause it to turn faster and if it is in your whole batch then it could ruin the whole jar. I like the idea of putting it in its’ own container (ala the green salsa) and would suggest doing the same for the other restaurant items you are saving. I know that adds to extra containers in the fridge but you can just make a conscious effort to use the emptier containers first. And in some cases, such as hot mustard, you may find that you can discontinue purchasing from the store entirely!
Another possible tip that goes with almost bad fruits and veggies and saving money grocery shopping, I have recently noticed and started to take advantage of grocery mark-downs for almost bad produce. I recently got already browning bananas (usually 54 cents a pound for 29 cents) and took them straight home, peeled and cut into chunks and into the freezer, I will use them for smoothies and banana bread. Same with tomatoes that were starting to get soft spots last year, took them home and right into a stock pot to make a huge batch of sauce! If you are able to store items properly you should consider buying them at their lowest price, right now we can get potatoes for about 50 cents a pound and our family eats lots of them! I buy lots of potatoes this time of year and just make sure they are all very dry and free of anything that could cause them to rot, then they go into a basket in our basement (you want a cool, dry, dark place).
Like you I also drink a lot of water (I aim for at least a gallon a day) and it can quickly get boring so I love flavoring it with different things, right now the mint is prolific in my garden and strawberries are starting to pop up, I like a strawberry-mint combo. If you like to buy juice you could try putting just a splash of juice into your glass of water, flavors your water and makes the juice last longer. I rarely drink juice but when I do I like to mix it with club soda, makes it feel special and stretches it farther (plus since I drink water almost exclusively the full-strength juice is a bit much for me).
I really enjoy the format that you have gone with for your days of blogging, it seems you have already found your groove and your voice!