When I began couponing, I noticed the savings were spilling into other areas. I got so excited about saving money with coupons, I wanted to save money other ways too! So I decided I'd try to post some updates on how I'm doing with my couponing and saving, and also share the tips I find along the way!
Today I want to share something really simple, but it's something I struggled with for a very long time after we got married, and that is using what you have, and not letting things go to waste.
Since Luke and I don't have kids yet, I just have to cook for the two of us. For the first couple years of our marriage, I threw away WAY too much food, because we simply couldn't eat it fast enough. I feel like in the past few months, I've gotten much better at using what we have. Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way:
1. Freeze what you know you can't eat now. When I make lasagna or a big casserole that the two of us will never be able to eat quickly, I try to freeze as much as I can. Not only does this prevent food from going bad, but it also helps me later on down the road when I've had a long week and don't feel like preparing a whole meal.
2. Don't buy too much of one item (if it's a perishable product) just because it's on sale. I was really guilty of this before. If something was on sale, I would buy a lot of it, not taking into consideration the fact that we may not be able to eat/use it all before it expired. This one has become easier as time has gone on, because I have a much better idea of how much of a certain product Luke and I can use/eat in a certain amount of time now.
3. Keep a list of possible meals you could make with the items you have on hand. This has been so helpful for me! I keep a "note" on my iPhone of all the meals I can make with the food/products I have on hand, and the ones that I plan to buy the following week. That way, I don't forget about something I have in the fridge or cupboard. I plan on spending between $55 and $60 next week on groceries. Out of those groceries, plus whatever I have left at my house, I can make 9 meals! I thought that was pretty good! This helps me use up what I have, and also makes meal-planning so much less of a hassle.
4. Make meals that have similar ingredients during the same week. For example, I ordered some meatballs from a fundraiser that one of the kids at my school was doing. Later, I looked in the Giant Eagle add this week, and Italian Sausage is on sale. So I will plan on making meatball subs one day this week, and Italian Sausage sandwiches another day. That way, I will probably be able to use up all the sub buns I buy this week, instead of leaving a few of them to sit in my cupboard and go bad.
5. Eat your leftovers, and keep your refigerator clean and organized. I was really, really not good at this when we first got married. I would put leftovers in the fridge, and completely forget about them. Honestly, there were times when I would throw away a whole tupperware container because it was too gross to try to clean out! But luckily, I've gotten much better at this, too. I try to clean out my refrigerator weekly, and keep all of our leftovers at the very front of the shelves so we don't forget about them.
And just for my own records, I'm going to keep track of how I'm doing with saving money, and I'm going to try to post the amount of money I saved weekly. So for the week of May 22, 2011, here's how much money I saved:
Walgreens: Saved $4.25 in coupons and store sales
Giant Eagle: Saved $22.59 in coupons and store sales
Total Saved This Week: $26.84
Not bad for my first week back in the game! And for the first time in MONTHS, we are staying under budget for groceries for the month of May. (Okay, it was only $.18 cents under budget, but hey, it's better than being $30 over!!)