Food Savings Tips to Save Time, Money, and Frustration - 510 Families

Food Savings Tips to Save Time, Money, and Frustration

Thank you to StopWaste for sharing these wonderful tips about food prep, safety, and helping. Get the most out of your food. Make it last longer, go further, and stay tasty with storage tips, recipes, and more at StopFoodWaste.org.

Food Savings Hacks to Save You Time, Money and Keep Your Family Fed with Greater Ease

In my house, my relationship with food has changed during this ten month, stay-mostly-at-home order. It has felt like one long year of non-stop meal prep and clean-up. I have slowly but steadily increased my reliance on take-out meals and planned my grocery runs to be as few and far between as possible. I have also relaxed my standards about which meals can feature cereal.

Our friends at StopWaste offer many insanely useful tips to stretch our food further. Caring for our food, making the most of it, and reducing wasted food also has the immediate benefit of reducing time shopping and saving money. It also has the longer turn benefit of being kind to the environment and all who work in our complicated food system. Yes, please!

glass food containers

Planning for meals

Take inventory of what you have.

Whether you panic-shopped back in March or just have way too many black beans and too few tortillas, look in your cupboards and freezer and make a plan of what you want to use up and put it in meals. Smart shopping & meal planning tips >>

How to shop your fridge
How to shop your fridge and freezer with the printable planner from StopWaste

Play to your strengths.

Stick to your family’s easy recipes and don’t worry about being Insta-worthy. Sticking to your strong suits might mean a memorized pasta sauce, Taco Tuesday, breakfast for dinner, or sheet pan dinners every week. Find your family favorites as go-to meals. Fed is best.

Know what to eat first.

Print out this useful Eat This First sign and stick it inside your fridge to designate an area for foods that need to be eaten soon to help all the eaters know which cheese to eat and which to leave alone. You can also create a basket on your counter or cupboards where you put your open bags of foods and snacks so they get eaten before going stale.

fridge with eat this first sign
Print your own Eat This First sign for the fridge | Photo: Alma Freeman, StopFoodWaste

Making the next meal easier

Prep foods when you get them home.

To fill impatient, hungry bellies and make sure they eat their veggies, we always serve my kids a plate of cut veggie sticks (aka crudités) before their lunch and dinner. I put cut-up carrots and celery in jars filled with water to keep them fresh, crisp and easy to grab (they keep like this for up to a week). If you are getting food less frequently and in larger quantities, prepare foods in advance — and clearly label them — to make snack and meal time easier and keep food from going bad before you get to it.

carrots celery fridge
Store cut carrots and celery in refrigerated water jars for up to a week | Photo: Robin Plutchok, StopWaste

Make double batches.

When you can, cook double and freeze half. Freeze in whole- ,half-, or individual-portions that you’ll want to use to avoid thawing a giant brick of beef stew for one. I love this hack when I’m assembling lasagnas or for large batches of chili.

Freeze leftover pizza.

Ordering too much pizza (is that even a thing?) has become a strategy at our house once we learned you can freeze the leftovers for future lunches. Learn the best ways to freeze and reheat your favorite slice >>

New Recipes to love

Homemade Fried Rice
Homemade Fried Rice with leftover rice, small pieces of meat, saved bacon fat, and frozen carrots & peas. You can add any wilted greens like kale or cabbage.

Discover your hero recipes.

Now that we’ve just given permission to eat hot dogs every week, think bigger. A “hero recipe” can use all the bits and bobs in the kitchen in an upcycled dinner. Meals like fried rice, combination casseroles, frittata, stew, soup, shepherd’s pie incorporate the leftover meats and vegetables from earlier in the week in fresh ways.

Clean out your pantry with soup.

Making homemade soup is the perfect way to use up bits from your fridge, limp vegetables, leftover pasta or rice, cheese ends, and even old ketchup (what?!!). If you want to feel like a food waste warrior, keep a container in your freezer to throw in your onion skins, potato peels, carrot ends and celery tops so you level up and make your own vegetable stock. You can also freeze and simmer chicken or turkey bones to make your own bone broth.

making soup
Turn kitchen scraps into tasty veggie stock | Photo: Robin Plutchok, StopWaste

Food sustains us, nourishes us, carries our traditions, and bring us closer as a community — even when we can’t be together. Make it last longer, go further, and stay tasty with storage tips, recipes, and more at StopFoodWaste.org.

stop waste

Thanks to StopFoodWaste.org for starting this important conversation about preventing and eliminating food waste and sponsoring 510families.com. StopFoodWaste is a program of StopWaste, a public agency serving Alameda County.

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