Coupon Tip: Waste not, want not

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save money on food

Save money by using what you buy!

When I was a new couponer, I went for every deal! I wanted to score free or cheap items so badly that I was buying things I would never use or would never have bought otherwise. Now, this can be okay in some situations- you could donate things you won’t use to a shelter (for people or animals, depending on the product!) or give it to someone you know will use it. I do this with a few products and a lot of samples that I can get for free or really cheap.

I was watching a financial show yesterday and it came up that the average household throws away 25% of the food they buy per year. This is crazy but I can understand how it happens. It takes effort to use the groceries that you buy and plan to use everything in your refrigerator before the expiration dates.  To put this in perspective, if you have a grocery budget of $400 per month (low for most families!), you are throwing away $100 of this PER MONTH. That’s $1200 per year. So, not matter how many dollars you save with coupons, if you are wasting food, you are losing a lot more.  I have to remind myself of this often too and I wanted to share some tips that I use to make sure I don’t waste food.  If you are fortunate enough to have an extra freezer, that can make a huge difference. We have very limited space so I have to be resourceful with how I use it! How do you keep from losing money by wasting food?

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t buy things just because it’s a great deal, especially if you won’t use them or it’s an effort to use them (and you probably don’t have the time!).
  • Plan your meals so you buy what you need and stock up on non-perishable items that you use a lot of.  There are some great meal planner tools on Pinterest or online for free!
  • Keep an inventory list of what you have and what you need- this can be so helpful when you find great deals. Throw it in your coupon binder or hang it on the fridge to find it easily when making your shopping lists.
  • Make a list! This makes a huge difference in over-buying at the store. Stick to it and use the ads to help you plan your meals and your list to get the best deals.
  • Use or freeze items that are going bad. Did you know you can put bananas in the freezer? Save them for banana bread or homemade banana ice cream. I do this a lot because I am not always ready to use them but hate throwing them away.
  • Puree any fruits or veggies that are at the end of their rope and use them that way! You can add veggie purees to soups or use as a sandwich spread or make dips with them. Fruit purees make great icy treats. I either freeze them in the ice pop molds or add yogurt and freeze it for more of an ice cream treat.
  • If you have vegetables that are about to go bad, cook them!  Green beans, broccoli and cauliflower can all be blanched and frozen for later use and you’ll have frozen veggies in the freezer, ready to go!
  • Repackage large quantities of meat into more useable sizes. If you buy meat in bulk or get a great deal, use a vacuum sealer or good quality freezer bags to re-portion it out to what you will use. I always write the date I froze and the expiration date on the bag. If it’s ground meat, I also write the weight on the bag. Smaller bags I use for chili or soup and larger bags I would use for hamburgers on the grill!

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