Tips for Reducing Your Family’s Food Waste

You might be surprised to learn that in the United States, we have more than 34 million tons of food waste on an annual basis. That accounts for around 14 percent of the total waste we place in our landfills, where it decomposes and creates greenhouse gases. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that families in the United States waste about 27 percent of their food purchases, thus wasting spendable income.

So what can you do to reduce your food waste? Keep in mind that by reducing the amount of food you throw away, you’re actually saving money too. The following tips and lifestyle changes will help you make sure very little goes to waste.

[1] Meal Planning will help stop Food Waste.

Plan your meals weekly. Decide how many meals your family will be eating at home each week. Then make a written plan of what you need for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Create a list and then shop from the list, buying only what you need. When you’re making the list, keep the recipes in front of you so you can make sure you buy the right quantity. For example, if a stir fry recipe calls for 10 ounces of chicken, you can buy only around 10 ounces, about one large chicken breast.

[2] Learning to Love Leftovers will stop Food Waste.

Much of the food that goes to waste in your home is most likely due to leftovers. Either change your meal planning so you don’t have leftovers, or learn to love them. For example, leftover stir fry may not sound like a typical breakfast, but it can be quite satisfying if you add a couple of eggs and create an omelet. You can also, plan to use them the next day for your brown bag lunch.

food waste This is one of my favorite ways to use leftovers for another meal.  A finger food plate where everyone gets a verity of small leftovers for a complete meal.  Black bean salad with corn tortilla chips, salmon pete` on celery sticks, sliced fresh veggies and a boiled egg makes an inviting meal, while clearing out the refrigerator.

[3] Learning to Preserve food will stop Food Waste.

There are many different opportunities to preserve your produce before it goes bad. For example, if you buy an abundance of apples and can’t eat them all before they go bad, you can chop them up and freeze them. You can place them in a food dehydrator or a low temperature oven and make dried apple slices. You can also cook them down and toss them in a food processor and make applesauce or apple butter.

Finally, if you just can’t do anything with that food and it’s going to end up in a landfill, consider composting. Composting turns your food scraps and paper scraps into rich soil that you can use in your garden, landscaping or even in your indoor plants. It’s a smart way to help keep food waste out of landfills and to enhance your gardening experience.

 

Eating Healthier Foods on a Modest Budget

If you have tried to buy healthier foods at the grocery store, you 
might have been put off by the price. After all, organic apples are 
so much more expensive than conventionally grown ones, and 
whole grain snack crackers cost more than white soda crackers.  
But those price comparisons are not the whole picture.  Maybe 
whole grain snack crackers cost more than white ones, but have 
you compared that to the price of a bag of flour, from which you 
could make your own snacks? Sometimes you have to rethink the 
way you view food prices to really get the healthiest food for the 
best price.
Healthier Foods
Here are some tips on how you can buy and eat healthier foods, 
even on a modest budget.

"Cheap" Food Isn't Always as Cheap as You Think

So your favorite brand of potato chips is on sale for $2 a bag, and 
you have a coupon!  Before you gloat about your good deal, have 
you checked the price of a 3-lb bag of organic potatoes? They 
may be on sale, too and guess how many more potato dishes you 
can make from that bag than you can from a bag of potato chips. 

The same goes for nearly all processed foods, they may seem 
cheaper, but buying the whole, healthier foods version is often 
cheaper. Think of it this way: instead of buying completed, 
processed foods, buy ingredients instead. Rather than buying two 
loaves of bread, buy a bag of whole wheat flour for the same price  (or less) and make far more than just two loaves of bread. 

Stick to the Edges

Overall, whole foods are cheaper than processed, prepackaged 
ones and the whole foods are generally sold along the outside 
edges of the average grocery store.  In the center of the store, 
you'll find cereal, candy, bread, canned foods, and so forth, while 
along the edges you'll find produce, meats, and dairy. The 
exception to this might be whole grains and dried beans.  Many 
stores stock their whole grain flours and dried beans in the center 
aisles.  It might take a couple of investigating trips to the store to 
find your better buys but in the end to get the healthier foods, 
it's well worth it.

Cut Back on Meat

When it comes to budgeting your groceries for healthier foods, 
you may find that meat takes up a big chunk of the budget. 
However, replacing meat with processed meat substitutes (such as tofu burgers) is not particularly cost effective, either.  Instead, 
consider replacing meat with other protein sources, such as brown 
rice and/or beans. 

Buy in Season

Buying foods in season can save a lot of money, and some health 
experts claim your body processes seasonal foods better.  Buying 
local foods helps, too, and stocking up on favorites when they are 
in season can save a lot.  Canning, freezing, and drying seasonal 
fruits and vegetables helps boost your diet in the winter months, 
and it's easier on your budget. 

So the next time you reach for a bag of chips, and all that...think !

Cooking Meals and Saving Money on Winter Comfort Foods

The cold weather months are excellent for hearty comfort foods that warm you up and keep you full. Delicious soups, stews, and hot casseroles abound, most so good, that you almost don’t miss the warmer weather. Even better, many wintertime comfort foods can be made without spending a lot and they go a long way.  Often, you can feed a big family or make enough for a week’s worth of meals, and spend very little money on each serving.

enchiladas_nim

Save Time

Most people tend to slow down during the winter. Maybe it’s the cold, or maybe it’s the layer of ice or snow which is keeping everyone in the sloth mode, but people tend to move slower and take their time.  All that extra time spent bundling up and thawing out means you don’t have a lot of extra time to cook a gourmet meal. Luckily, winter is the best time for some simple meal ideas.

Slow Cooked

Slow cookers, or “crock pots” as they are also called, are the perfect solution for family meals on the go. Simply put your ingredients in the cooker in the morning, turn it on, and then come home to a delicious hot meal waiting for you. Most recipes are so simple you just throw everything in and go, while others may require very little prep.

cold weather comfort foods

Fix It and Forget It

Winter cooking is a great time to make use of some super easy “fix it and forget it” type meals. For example, a pot roast with some chopped veggies can be thrown into the oven and a timer set, cooking to perfection while you relax or get some other tasks done.

Savory Staples

To save money and keep your tummies full and satisfied, look to stocking winter staples. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes go well in just about any savory winter dish, keep for quite a while, and are almost always some of the cheapest produce your grocery store has to offer.

Pantry Perfection

For simple, delicious, and hot meals of your favorite comfort foods, to warm you up when the weather gets cold, look no farther than a stocked pantry. Canned goods, rice, and pasta make for fast, easy, and cheap casserole ideas that cost even less than the time it takes to throw them together.

Extra Tips

Keep it simple – The simplest meals are often the most delicious, especially during the winter when anything hot and savory really hits the spot. Very few ingredients can go a long way.

Prep ahead – A little extra prep in the morning, or even spending time to prep once a week, can make meal times easy in the wintertime. For example, chopping up veggies and putting them in bags in the freezer cuts down on time and makes it super simple for you to just grab them whenever you need to.

Coupons – Most coupons tend to be for canned and boxed goods, so winter is the best time to make use of these pantry staples and save a lot of money.

Cooking is easy when you utilize some of these simple solutions. Not only can you make hot, satisfying comfort foods, but you can also save money in the process.

To me, there is nothing better, than opening my front door and smelling the aroma of my dinner cooking in my slow cooker or crock pot.
When I had five children at home, it was the most used cooking utensil in the kitchen, and still is. Although I am a single person now, I still use my tried and true friend, the crock pot.

Over the years, I have found, these few tips improve my crock pot cooking joy.

cold weather and hot food
[1] Using the right size crock pot, for the job.  I have three different size crock pot cookers, because I never want to over fill the cooking insert.  It would only cause spillage or under cooked food.
[2] Planning ahead by doing the chopping of your vegetables the night before and storing them in the refrigerator is the secret to quickly getting the meal together before leaving for work.  DO NOT, store the vegetables in the crock pot insert.  Starting with a cold insert will only add to the cooking time. So store the chopped veggies in an air tight container overnight, then place them in the cooker in the morning.
[3] You should prepare your meat before hand, too.  Remember you are cooking with low heat, so you do not want to have you meat to be too thick, as it may not reach a safe cooking temperature.  A piece of meat no more than 2 inches thick, should work great.  Keeping your whole chicken or chicken parts to about 2-3 pounds works well, also.  Do a spice rub on your meat of choice, cover or wrap, then place it in the refrigerator with your vegetables.
[4] DO NOT lift the lid on your crock pot, until you are within the last 30-45 minutes of the cooking time.  It will only release the heat and interupt the cooking process.
You can check for doneness or add spices in the last 30 minutes of so but at any other time, you are doing more harm than good.
[5] If time permits, add more flavor to your meal by searing your beef.  Heat a heavy skillet to hot, add a tablespoon of oil, then place the meat in the hot skillet, listen for the sizzle.  Cook on both sides about 1-3 minutes each, depending on the thickness of your meat.  Then place the piece of meat into your crock pot cooker and add any juices from the skillet before placing the lid on the slow cooker and starting your cooking time.  You will get a richer broth and fuller flavor from the beef by doing this extra step.

Shopping during back to school savings time, can mean large saving for the family, not just for the children that are going back to school.  It seems, most stores use this time of year as a way to get you to buy more by offering you some great saving on household items.   If that is true in your area, now is the time to be looking at bedding, furniture, electronic items plus home office supplies.  

back to school savings

I do my best to buy my yearly office needs during back to school savings time.  This week alone, I can find packages of 10 pencils for 50 cents, 10 pens for 75 cents and 3 reams of computer paper for less than $10.00. All of these on top of writing tablets, markers, other computer supplies and in most places, even the computer will sell for its lowest price of the year.  

Back to School savings are not limited to office supplies or what we think of as things just for the everyday school use. Even when you do not have school age children, back to school saving time, should be an exciting time of the year for a frugal shopper. 

If you have been thinking it’s time to redo a bed or bathroom, now is the time to get around to it.  Department stores will be offering deluxe bedding at regular bedding prices.  Towels and matching wash cloths will be offered in all the latest colors and sizes at their best price of the year.

You should be able to find small refrigerators, office furniture, and microwaves at remarkable savings, too.

It’s not to early to think about holiday shopping either. Make your list of who has been naughty or nice and start working on it, before the prices go back up.  So don’t be shy, read those sale papers, cut out those coupons and go buy, while the back to school savings prices are right for you and your budget.