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I despise wasting food. Tossing out spoiled food is the equivalent of throwing money into the garbage can. When you stop wasting food, you will start saving money – and my frugal food hacks will show you exactly how to do it!
Why Use Frugal Food Hacks?
I get it, I really do. You go grocery shopping with every intention of using the food that you buy. But then plans change, food gets shoved to the back of the fridge and, well, life happens.
In most cases, food waste is not intentional – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s wasteful, both for your wallet and the environment.
My frugal food tips are designed to help you get ahead of the game. I share frugal food ideas on how to make produce last longer and ways to use up every last bit of the food you purchase.
Ready for a Challenge?
Learning how to save money on food can be a big challenge! I share my the details of my favorite frugal meals – including delicious dinners, inexpensive lunches and cheap breakfasts (and frugal snacks and appetizers, too!) to help you stay on budget!
However, if you want to find out how low you can go – and still eat healthy, delicious meals – then join my Frugal Food Challenge!
10 Great Money-Saving FOOD HACKS
My frugal hacks for food are tips and tricks that will help you to reduce your food waste, so that you can start saving money!
#1 Meal Plan
Long one of the best money-saving hacks for food, a simple meal plan can help you save tons of cash. When you plan out what meals you will eat for the week before going to the grocery store, you have a much better chance of actually using the food that you buy and reducing what you end up throwing away.
If the concept of meal planning is new to you – or if you have struggled with it in the past – use my Top Tips for Meal Planning to get off on the right foot!
Once you create your meal plan, then make your grocery shopping list – which is another one of my favorite grocery hacks. A written list can help you navigate the store without succumbing to impulse purchases. Trust me, shopping with a list is another one of the best life hacks to save money on food, which will result in a lower grocery bill per month.
#2 Only Buy What You Need
Trying to be fresh and frugal with your produce can feel like a real battle – especially if you are only cooking for one or making meals for a couple, rather than a large family.
While I am typically a big proponent of buying in bulk – as bulk produce is usually marked at a lower price per pound than smaller portions – it’s not the case if you let the food go bad.
For example, the family-size blueberries are a much better deal…but only if you consume or freeze them before they go bad. Otherwise, you might actually save money by purchasing the smaller, more expensively priced (per pound) container of berries.
#3 Inventory, Track and Organize
One of the best – but often overlooked – frugal hacks to save money on food is to inventory the items you already have in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. If you already have it, you don’t need to buy it.
It’s also a good idea to track the items that you use most…and the food items you typically end up throwing away.
When you become aware of what foods are quickly consumed in your home, you can better make a plan to budget for those items. You can also keep a keen eye on when the item goes on sale.
On the flip side, tracking the items that frequently get tossed offers incredible insight into your biggest waste offenders.
For me, it was broccoli. In our weekly meal plan, I sometimes just note ‘Green Vegetable’ and buy whatever green veggie is on sale that week.
Therefore, if broccoli was on sale, I would buy it. However, when it came time to use it, I always opted for something else…because as it turns out, I don’t really like cooking broccoli. Time and again, broccoli with rotting, yellowed tips ended up in my wastebasket.
Sale or not, it is wasteful all around – and with food prices going up, it’s not the time to be wasteful.
A little organization in your fridge and freezer can go a long way in eliminating food waste to save money. (In fact, getting organized is one of the best frugal life hacks overall, in my opinion!)
When you come home from grocery shopping, rather than placing the new food items in the front of the fridge, pull the oldest items to the front and put the new items in the back.
You can also create an ‘Eat First’ bin – where you keep the items that need to be used up the quickest – like older vegetables and soon-to-expire yogurt. When it’s time to make a meal, always grab from that bin first. You can also take it one step further, and Meal Prep your food right after you get back from the grocery store. Then it’s grab-mix-eat for your week’s meals!
Staying organized with your meal plan, grocery list and favorite recipes will also help you from absent-mindedly wasting food. Keep organized with my Meal Planner Kit!
#4 Proper Storage
A fantastic food hack that is almost guaranteed to save you money is properly storing produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables are inevitably the first thing to go bad in your kitchen…and it’s often due to improper storage. If your fruits and veggies spoil mid-week, you’ll be more likely to go out to eat – and there goes your budget!
Here are a few money saving tips for food that will help extend the life of your produce:
- Store Celery and Carrots in a Glass Jar with Water
- Store Fruits Separately so they Last Longer
- Store Onions and Garlic in Pantyhose
- Wrap Leafy Greens in a Damp Tea Towel to Extend Life
- Add an Apple to Your Potato Bag for Longer Lasting Potatoes
- Wash Berries in Vinegar Bath to Keep them Fresh
- Keep Tomatoes and Cucumbers at Room Temperature (as well as Onion and Garlic)
- Store Opened Foods in Glass Jars – Everything from Grains to Veggies
#5 Freeze It
The freezer is an under-utilized tool for warding off food waste. If you encounter produce or meat that is about to go off, rather than throw it away, freeze it. And, don’t just shove it into the freezer – prep it first so that it is ready to use. (Yes, it takes a little work up front, but it’s absolutely worth the money you will save in the end.)
Most food can last for months in the freezer – so just make sure to add the frozen foods into your meal plan in the near future.
Want to really enhance your savings? Purchase fruits, veggies and meats from the ‘reduced price’ bin at your grocery store (or on the FlashFood App) and when you get home immediately prep them for the freezer. This is one of the great cheap food hacks!
Here are a few of my favorite frozen food hacks:
- Use Up Lemons by Making Lemon Ice Cubes for Recipes
- Freeze Fruit that is Too Ripe and Use It for Smoothies
- Freeze Wilted Herbs with Olive Oil to Add to Soups
- Freeze Leftover Wine into Cubes for Recipe Flavor Enhancers
#6 Salvage and Repurpose
Too often, when food starts to go bad in the kitchen, we toss it without considering how else it might be used. This is a huge, wasteful oversight! Just because part of an apple is bruised or the bread bag was left open does not mean the food should be trashed. Just salvage or repurpose it!
Salvaging and repurposing food are some of the best food waste hacks to save money. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Turn Stale Bread or Loaf Ends into Croutons
- Remove Spoiled Section of Fruits with a Knife and Consume
- Turn Potato Peels into Chips
- Puree Veggies into Sauces or Hummus
- Use Wilted Greens for Pesto and Dips
- Add Fruit Peels and Strawberry Tops to Make Infused Water
#7 Get Creative
A little creativity can go a long way when it comes to money-saving life hacks for food. Think outside of the box and use up every last bit of food that you paid good money for!
Casseroles are a great way to get creative and not be wasteful at the same time. There are no set rules about casseroles – as long as the flavor combinations complement each other, anything goes.
Therefore, you can enhance a basic casserole recipe with whatever items you have on hand that are soon to go bad. The meal can become an ‘Everything But the Kitchen Sink’ dinner – and it can be absolutely delicious!
Another creative way to save veggies – and one of the highly touted food hacks to save money – is to save your veggie scraps. After peeling and dicing, save all the parts of the vegetables that you would normally throw in the trash – and make them into stock for soups. Use this article to learn how to do it.
#8 Invest in Kitchen Tools that Help You Save Money
There are heaps of kitchen products that will help you save money in the long run, but there are a few money-saving items that are unique to staving off food waste. Even if you have a minimalist kitchen, these might be worthwhile products.
Meal Prep Containers will help you stay organized and less likely to waste the food that you bought.
#9 Grow It
Growing your own food has long been hailed as a top money saver (although, in my opinion, it often turns out to be a frugal habit that doesn’t pay off). If you do decide to try out your green thumb and grow your own produce or own fruit, just make certain that what you are planting are actual fruits and vegetables that you will use in your meal plan.
If you have a garden – or space for a garden – you can eliminate some of your produce waste by re-planting your vegetable scraps. Potatoes, onions and carrots can all re-grow from scraps. Find more re-growing tips here.
Growing potted herbs in your kitchen is another way to save money and reduce waste. It seems, without fail, that the expensive herbs I buy from the store end up wilted before I use them all. However, with a live potted plant that continually reproduces, I have access to fresh herbs constantly…without any additional cost!
#10 Compost It
If all else fails, at least consider composting your food items instead of throwing them in the trash. Rather than adding to landfills, you can make an effort to return the nutrients back into the soil. Composting is one of the top sustainable kitchen hacks and a good zero waste plan.
In fact, composted food waste can be a huge money saver if you have a lawn, garden or potted plants. After the food breaks down and composts, simply add the natural, nutrient-rich fertilizer to your soil.
Budgeting Your Food
Buying groceries on a budget is not the easiest task. However, with a little effort and a well thought-out budget, you can succeed!
We Want To Know: What are your top frugal food hacks for eliminating waste and saving money? Share your advice in the comments below!
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