Are you tired of picking past the slimy veggies to get at the stuff in the fridge that’s still good?
If yes, chances are that your shopping list planning skills could use some work—and not only that, a new plan will help you save money, cut food waste, and keep you eating healthy.
Food is constantly moving through your house, so it really is worth it to hold yourself accountable to actually eating everything you buy. Sure, that may seem like common sense but we’ve all had to dump our fair share of spoiled ingredients simply due to lack of planning. Well folks, besides just throwing money in the garbage, our planet can’t cope with the sheer amount of food that’s not being eaten. Follow these meal-planning hacks to make sure that you’re actually eating everything that you buy!
Hack 1: Take an inventory of what you’ve got before you go shopping.
Start your grocery shop in the kitchen. Instead of deciding what the week’s groceries will be at the store (or online—SPUD style!), begin by taking an inventory of what you already have at home. Become a master of knowing how far certain items will take you, and how often they need to be replenished. For example, how many days does it take you to get through a head of lettuce? Not everything can go into the freezer when it’s getting close to spoiled.
Hack 2: Stay well stocked on cheap pantry staples.
Whether you’re a hopeless meal planner, or it’s the night before your SPUD order arrives and you’ve seamlessly used up all of your groceries, staying well-stocked with these items will ensure that you’ve always got a medley of meal options. Because these pantry staples won’t spoil, you never have to worry about having more than you need at any giving time. Keeping a hefty supply of these four ingredients will keep you armed with several options even if you feel like you’re low on everything else.
- Diced tomatoes: These are great to have on hand, as they provide the basis of soups, stews, pasta sauces and more. When you find yourself scrounging around the kitchen, you’ll often find that diced tomatoes are the ingredient that brings together all of the random ingredients you need to use up. Half a pepper, three mushrooms, a quarter of an onion, and your diced tomatoes? BOOM—you’ve got a kickass pasta sauce,
- Grains: When you’re well-stocked on staple grains like quinoa, brown rice, barley, and wheat berries, all you have to do is cook some up and throw a few odds and ends in to create a great meal. Staple grains make using up the last bits of ingredients easy when you make things like stir fries, grain salads, and soups!
- Legumes: One of the cheapest sources of protein you can purchase for the amount of nutrition they pack. Keeping a couple of cans of lentils, or black, kidney, and garbanzo beans in the pantry leaves you stocked with the star of an easy soup, chili, salad, and more.
- Frozen veggies: You may be surprised to know that frozen veggies have just as many nutrients as fresh ones, making them the perfect back up plan for a night when you’re low on the fresh stuff. Throw a cup of these in an omelette, throw them into a pasta sauce, or any other meal that is lacking veggie goodness.
Hack 3: Plan for leftovers.
It’s a no-brainer that when you pack your own lunch, you save money and you make healthier choices. So why not make leftovers the goal instead an afterthought. Make enough dinner the night before that you know you’ll be set up with a hearty lunch for the next day. You’ll save the money you might otherwise spend on lunch, and you’ll have less of an excuse to make unhealthy choices.
Hack 4: Create an ‘eat this first’ section.
If you end up buying a whole new bag of apples before realizing that you already have a few still kicking around in your fruit bowl, move them into the ‘eat this first’ section of your pantry or counter. It can also include things like knobby looking produce items that would work well in juices and pies, but often lay forgotten until they’ve spoiled. This is such an easy way to get everyone into the routine of being aware of how food is moving through the house, and putting in a concerted effort to use everything up!
Hack 5: Be mindful when it comes to impulse buys.
Hint, hint: buying your groceries online largely reduces temptation to buy things you don’t need. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes the artisanal sauce, or those local mussels that are on sale are a great idea. But if you don’t eat everything, then the rest just sits there—a random ingredient that doesn’t go with that much. So if you’re going to deviate very far away from your usual grocery routine, ask yourself if you can realistically use up everything you’re buying. If not, leave it. You’ll save money, room in your fridge, and the discomfort of discovering mysterious and unidentifiable items months later.
Try implementing these tips into your routine, and let us know if you find them helpful! In the meantime, if you’ve got any of your own meal-planning hacks, we’re all ears!
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