Save Money on Food: Reduce Spoilage

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this blog, but I am in the midst of trying to make enough money to move in May, so I'm pretty slogged down with paying work right now. Plus, I am on a medication protocol that requires me to eat lots of fat for two meals a day, so my shopping hasn't been normal. I'm still trying to save money, but I'm also buying a lot of things at full price because they are high fat, so nothing much to report.

When I get busy, I shop but I tend to lose track of what is in the refrigerator, and food spoils. Since I am on such a limited food budget, this is definitely not a good thing. Just last week, I had to throw out a whole quart of strawberries that had grown fur, and that was $2.50 out of my budget.

Yesterday, I made a vegetable soup and ended up having to cut off a lot of some nearly rotten celery and carrots. I'm cleaning out the refrigerator today to make sure nothing else goes to waste.

One of my problems is that I don't have a car, so I have to shop when I have transportation. I end up buying too much, then losing track of it, since I don't make menus and don't cook much. I recently got a bicycle -- a gift from a very kind neighbor -- so now that it has warmed up quite a bit, I'm going to try to make frequent trips to the grocery store instead of just one a week. That way, my produce won't go bad.

These are the steps I'm going to take to keep my food from spoiling. I hope they help someone else.

  1. Don't buy perishable fresh food I'm not going to eat within the next 3-5 days. Some vegetables keep longer than others like hard-shelled squash and sweet potatoes, but for very perishable things (like said strawberries), I am not going to even buy them unless I have a pretty quick plan to use them.
  2. Make more frequent trips to the grocery store. This will be easier with my bicycle, and even easier once I get to Gainesville, where there is a good bus line close to the house. Food is more nutritious when it is fresher anyway. I sometimes wonder if there is any use in buying apples, since I read that the ones in the stores are actually last year's crop. Applesauce or dried apples may be a better choice.
  3. Ask myself: Do I need this? Just because a food item is on sale doesn't mean you have to buy it. I'm a sucker for BOGOs, so there are some times I have actually walked around the store putting impulse items back on the shelf.
  4. Ask myself: Will I really eat all of this? This is a good thing to ask yourself if you're tempted to stock up on BOGOs or buy in bulk. For example, I bought a lot of peanuts on sale for my high-fat diet and now I'm sick of peanuts. Luckily, dried peanuts last a long time, but I bought so many because they were on sale, and that money could have been better spent. Same goes for the two huge 1-lb chunks of cheese and two loaves of bread I bought for the same diet. I don't know why I thought I could eat grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese toast every day, but I'm regretting those purchases too.
  5. Ask myself: Do I have room to store this? I'm completely out of freezer and shelf space now, since I don't have much in this shared kitchen. I will have just as little in my new place, since it will be so small, so I really need to assess my space before I buy things. Once, I thought there was space in the big freezer here, but since I had looked, my roommate had filled it up. I bought a lot of frozen food, and had a really hard time trying to find freezer space for it. As for dried goods, I had to buy some crates to put in my room to store some of my dried goods.

I'm going to clear out the fridge today, and in the future, I'll be more particular about what I buy. It's not a bargain if you throw it away, now is it?


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