I was able to get by with only $20 for food for the last eight days. I barely scraped by but I did it! I was able to use up the food that I already had and actually came up with some tasty meals. I just had to invest some time and creativity.
I learned a few things about my eating and food-buying habits while I was trying to empty out my fridge. Here are a few things that I learned:
1.) I waste a lot of food.
I was almost embarrassed at how much food I ended up throwing away. I had almost a full container of tofu that went bad because it was in the back of my fridge and I forgot about it. I had only used one serving of it for a tofu scramble one day. I also threw away some lettuce that had just gotten too old as well as some snap peas that were a little too brown. All things that I could have used in a meal, I had let go bad and therefore damned them to the compost pile. Sad.
2.) I don’t plan my meals as good as I thought I did.
I love to plan my meals to keep track of my calories and nutrition. I have not been good at planning to minimize waste. A lot of food I had that I did not end up using where items that I bought because I thought I would use them. This past week I got to see the foods that I do tend to reach for on a daily to every-other-day basis. Some of the items I utilized the most where tortillas, black forest ham slices, earth balance, pasta, rice, frozen peas, olives and apples. My organic eggs did not get eaten. Also I surprised myself that a lot of the lettuce that I thought I would use for salad, I did not eat. I learned that if I am going to plan my meals and shopping to minimize waste and to be cost effective, it is going to have to be around the foods I actually eat.
3.) I need to freeze leftovers more often.
I found myself often referring to the freezer for help/inspiration and just about cleaned it out in the process. All I have in there now is some vodka, Greek frozen yogurt, my flour and sugar (we had really bad ants this summer), walnuts, and my chipotle ice cubes (see my post about this). This tells me, I really should utilize the freezer more often. With this new realization, I plan on cooking more beans, more rice, and more pasta dishes and then freezing them for later use.
Last night, since I had some money left over, I splurged and bought all the ingredients for a spaghetti and meatballs dinner including the garlic bread. I was craving it, and it was delicious.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am not going to plan this week’s meals. I am however going to empty out my entire refrigerator tonight, clean it, and take an inventory. I want to make room for all the leftovers plus I want to start out fresh for next week.
I am a huge fan of composting but at this rate I am going to have more rotten food than soil in my bin. I would love to know what you do to save money on food and minimize food waste.