Anyone who’s followed me for a while will know that money is tight in our house. With bills constantly rising and the amount of money we bring in staying the same we’ve had to become really frugal to get through each month.
One of the ways we save money is by reducing waste. I remember a time when each week we would go through the fridge and throw so much wasted food away, thinking how wasteful we were makes me feel quite ashamed now.
We still have a long way to go but we’ve managed to cut down on waste a lot so I thought I’d share some of my top tips in case they’re useful to you too!
Make and freeze breadcrumbs
When I make Harry’s sandwiches into fun shapes I save the pieces of bread that I cut off, toast them and then blitz into breadcrumbs. These can be kept in the freezer and used to make so many different things! Turkey burgers, meatballs, potato croquettes, pesto crust for fish… the possibilities are endless!
Buy a whole chicken
This works out so much cheaper than buying breast or thigh fillets. We usually get 2 or 3 meals out of 1 chicken, then boil the carcass to make stock. This can be frozen in ice cube trays then you can just pop a few cubes out when you need chicken stock for your cooking!
Freeze mashed potato
Another freezer hack here. If your potatoes are going to go off before you will get chance to eat them don’t throw them away! Make a big batch of mashed potato, split into portions (or better yet freeze in baby food containers) then just defrost as you need it. This saves so much time when you want a quick and easy meal for the kids, cheesy bean mash is one of Harry and Megan’s favourites! You can buy frozen mash in the shops but it’s so much cheaper to make your own, plus you can be sure there’s no hidden salt or nasties in there!
Buy frozen fruit
Frozen fruit is so much cheaper than fresh and just as healthy. My kids eat loads of frozen fruit at home (although frozen berries can be a bit messy if defrosted and put in a lunchbox, trust me, I speak from experience!) We serve ours in yoghurt, porridge, on pancakes, in smoothies or just as frozen little treats on their own!
Save off cuts of vegetables
When I make our meals, if there are little bits of carrot, broccoli etc left over I save them. It feels ridiculous to save such a small amount of food but I put it in a freezer bag or a tub in the freezer. Over time I add small amounts to the same bag or tub and it all adds up. At the end of the month when we’re low on money, it’s great to defrost and blend our veggie bag up with some of our chicken stock and make a delicious, filling soup.
Never throw away brown bananas!
If your bananas are starting to turn brown don’t throw them away! These bananas are the sweetest and are perfect for baking! You can make banana bread, muffins, sugar free flapjacks… so many different things! If you can’t be bothered baking slice them up and freeze them. Once frozen you can whizz them in a blender to make a really creamy, healthy ice cream!
I go on about this one all the time but planning your meals in advance, making a list for the specific ingredients you need and only buying the things you plan to use is a great way to avoid waste! Before you meal plan look in the cupboards and fridge to see what needs using up then plan meals around those ingredients first. Honestly, it makes such a difference and saves so much money.
Meal plan for 6 days, not 7
I find that meal planning for 6 days instead of 7 gives us a bit of flexibility to use up leftovers one day or have a bit of freedom to go off plan. There’s no point in buying ingredients for 7 meals if they wont get used and will end up in the bin! If you know you’re likely to have leftovers or want a take away don’t try and kid yourself into thinking it wont happen. It will probably end up costing you more in the long run!
If like me you have a tenancy to cook too much then freeze the excess! I tend to freeze child size portions to make quick and easy ready meals for the days when I’m in a rush and want something quick for the kids.
Have a well stocked range of herbs, spices and flavourings
Having a good variety of herbs and spices that last a long time make it so much easier to be creative with your foodie leftovers. A bit of Cajun spice or salt and pepper seasoning can turn some leftover potatoes into a really tasty bowl of chips. Some curry powder and a tin of leftover chickpeas can be turned into delicious chickpea patties, a bit of cinnamon sprinkled over slices of apple then baked in the oven makes a really healthy snack… you get the idea!
What are your top tips to reduce waste and save money?
I’d love you to share!