Everyone’s been there: you go through your fridge and pull out everything that’s got to be tossed. Typically, you wind up with three-week old leftovers, sour milk, and a mystifying collection of condiments that involves at least three olive types, a bottle of ketchup you didn’t know you had, and salad dressing you don’t remember buying.
Make it stop, guys and gals. Seriously. The amount of money wasted each month is stunning and appalling, and it doesn’t have to be. With some creative recipe hunting and a few new habits, you can save money, fridge space, and garbage bags.
How It’s Done
- Try a “Use It or Lose It” section of the fridge. Keep foods that are going to go bad soon and use them before they have to be thrown away. It’s surprising how true the old adage is: “Out of sight, out of mind.”
- Use a whiteboard on the refrigerator with a list of fresh produce, meals that can spoil, and leftovers. As it’s eaten, erase each item. It can get to be fun – the erasing part, especially; will come to feel like a job well done.
- Shop more often. In Europe, weekly – even daily – shopping trips are common, and it’s a good model. It’s easier to plan meals when you buy in smaller quantities, and it’s less likely that things will spoil. It’s also easier to use leftovers when you shop frequently.
- Plan meals. Many people shop disparately, buying enormous amounts of food without really considering their uses. If you take a few moments to plan out your meals for the week, you can make a thorough shopping list that takes those into account and avoid spending money on unnecessary items.
- Cycle your groceries. You know how grocery stores move the newer milk to the rear so that customers buy the older milk first? The same tactic will be effective in your fridge. Eating habits for most people are simple enough: they open the fridge and eat the first thing they see that looks appetizing. Make the first thing you see something that might not last the week if it isn’t eaten.
Useful Cooking Ideas
- Make use of stale bread. The ideal french toast recipe calls for bread gone slightly stale. When your sandwich loaf starts to turn, it isn’t time to toss it. It’s time for breakfast! That’s also a good way to use up older eggs. Banana Bread, bread pudding, and bread crumbs are other great ways to stretch that loaf.
- Cash in on condiments. If you have fifty kinds of olives types, there are as many ways to use them. The same is true of getting use out of pickles, mayonnaise, salad dressing, ketchup, and anything else in a jar that won’t last forever.
- Don’t give up on your poultry. Chicken pot pies, chicken salads, soups, fried dishes, and casseroles are all great ways to get a little life out of meat approaching a spoil.
About the Author
Ashely is a part of a team of writers who have contributed to tons of home improvement blogs and news sites. Follow her @AshelyMarie1985 to see what else she has to say!