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Is it refrigerator clean-out day at your house? You know that day . . . you dig through the recesses of your fridge, pull out forgotten-food-turned-moldy-science-experiment, and toss your unrecognizably icky food into the trash.
Most of us don’t like to handle stinky, bacteria-infested mystery foods . . . but we also hate to throw away money! That food in the dumpster was something you bought and possibly even something you spent time preparing.
Waste no more! It’s time to get serious about keeping your food — and your money — from winding up in the dump. Here’s how:
1. Make a meal plan.
When you create a meal plan for your family’s week (or month, if you’re ambitious!), you schedule a time for each food to be eaten. If your plan to eat five bananas during the week, you won’t wind up getting eight . . . and forgetting those last three until your kitchen smells of rotten fruit.
Are you one of those people (like my luggage-laden husband) who packs two or three times as many outfits as needed for a vacation so that you can be prepared for any occasion and any mood that strikes?
Unfortunately, unless your food keeps as well as your clothes, you can’t take the same approach with your meals. Buying ingredients for three different meals and waiting to see what you feel like eating that evening will result in food and financial waste.
Plan ahead, buy what you need, and work your plan! (Save even more by cashing in on sales!)
2. Be realistic about what you’ll eat.
We’re all guilty of buying things that we should eat but won’t actually touch.
Sometimes it’s because you can’t bring yourself to eat rice cakes when you have a well-stocked candy drawer. Other times, the problem is a lack of convenience.
If you want to pack raw carrots for your lunch but don’t want to make the time to wash, peel, and chop your carrots into sticks, they’ll just fester in your produce drawer uneaten. Likewise, if you want a green salad but don’t have the energy to wash, spin, chop, and store your lettuce, that head of romaine will wind up in the trash.
Make peace with your priorities. Grab the bag of ready-to-go baby carrots and the box of triple-washed salad greens. You’ll incorporate your desired foods into your life without the hassle or the expense of wasted produce.
3. Don’t hide your food.
Ever look into your fridge and wonder what’s in all those mysterious storage containers? How often have you dug into the back of your refrigerator and found something that you should have thrown out last year?
If you can’t see your food, you’ll forget about it.
Maximize your fridge’s storage space and the transparency of its contents by investing in clear, stackable storage containers. I have an as-of-yet untreated addiction to Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid containers. I’ve also recently started hoarding Pyrex glass food storage dishes, which are amazing for reheating food.
It doesn’t end here! Check back soon for Part 2 of this series on saving your food and your money.