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One thing I hate SO MUCH is wasting food. Anyone else feel the same way?
It used to feel like every month I would find slimy lettuce or cucumbers in my refrigerator, and I'd be so disappointed both in the waste of money and the waste of healthy veggies we needed!
I've developed a few strategies to help me actually eat what we have, and I wanted to share them with you!
1. Use your grocery store receipt as a guide.
Immediately after a trip to the store, I snap a picture of my receipt. Then when I get home, I'll put the receipt on the refrigerator (but let's be real – with five kids I'm lucky if I make it home with everything I left the house with – it's not incredibly likely the receipt will get home intact).
Using the receipt (or a photo of it) to meal plan allows me to make sure I'm not wasting any food, and reminds me of what I just bought. Please tell me someone else struggles to remember what each ingredient is for – I forget all the time!
When I'm meal planning, it helps so much to have a snapshot of what I know I have. Even when I don't have time to really meal plan and have to rely on my last-minute Drive Thru Sue THM menu, I know what I've got and can at least jot down some snack and lunch ideas based on what I bought.
2. Clean out the refrigerator once a week, at least!
It's not easy, but it's very sanitary! My two littlest are 5 and 7 years old and struggle to reach the food on the shelves. I keep string cheese within their reach, but just about anything else is hard for them to get to, which sometimes results in a big mess. I'm also a total weirdo about meat germs (the threat of salmonella is real, people), so disinfecting the shelves once a week, the day before I go to the grocery store (or, ahem, grocery pickup) is a must.
The process is pretty simple – I just take everything off of the shelves and set it on the counter, unless it's expired and needs to be tossed. Then I take a picture of all of the food that just came out of my refrigerator so I can meal plan based on what I have. This saves time AND money!
I wipe down the shelves and drawers with hot, soapy water, wipe the bottoms of the products I'd pulled out previously, and return them to their rightful places. Then, of course, I wipe down the counters.
Quick tip: I use lunch trays like these for my meat drawer so that if I have any drips, they don't leak all over the fridge. These are the exact trays I use:
I use a similar process to clean out my pantry if you want to see this in action!
3. Have a leftover night!
This is so simple, but it can save so much money! Sundays have become leftover days at our house, and it is an easy way to eat up any leftover food or unused food.
Leftovers don't have to be exact repeats, either – we often use leftover meats in tacos, leftover sauces in casseroles, etc. My favorite way to use leftovers is to make a giant salad bar. It's fun to get creative with your leftovers and come up with a whole new meal!
4. Always “shop” in your fridge, pantry, and freezer before you go shopping!
Nothing saves more than using what you already have! When you meal plan, try to incorporate ingredients you already have stocked before coming up with new meal ideas that need need to be shopped for. Following this step can save time and money, and it can also keep your food from going to waste.