I used to spend a lot of money on groceries. In University, my fiance and I would spend hundreds at the grocery store, and still hundreds more at the farmer’s market. We loved eating, and we loved to eat well. We’d buy expensive cuts of meat, locally sourced yogurt, and tons of fresh veggies – every week.
Needless to say all of that awesome food didn’t come cheap, and when it came time to start chopping my way out of debt, our food bill was one of the first things on the chopping block. Month after month we’d fine tune our shopping habits, developing techniques for lowering our grocery bill, figuring out what worked for our household.
One of the best things we figured out how to do was to shop our pantry. I’m sure you’ve been there, you open up your cup boards and even though there’s tons of cans and packages of food in there, you feel like there’s “nothing to eat”. So you go and get groceries, loading up on your favourite perishable food, while those cans and packages sit in your cupboard, uneaten. This was one of our bad habits that caused us to spend a lot of extra money every week.
These days, when we’re a little low on groceries, instead of running over to the store for a quick refill, I sit down in front of my cupboards and take stock of what’s available. Often there will be remnants of some unsuccessful recipe left behind, a half package of noodles, or a partial box of lentils. Instead of mentally hoping over these items, I focus in. I take whatever it is that has been sitting there uneaten for awhile, and I make it my priority to use it up. After all, unused food is just dollars sitting on the shelves – or worse – in the garbage.
I use websites like allrecipes.com to search for recipes that include that specific ingredient. I try and avoid complicated recipes that will require me to purchase extra ingredients (after all the point is to use up food not create more half used packages) and I get to work putting that food to good use. I’ve made some interesting meals this way, and a few of them have stuck, making this rarely used food into a staple of our diet.
This happened to me just last week. There have been dried kidney beans sitting in my cup board for ages, the result of my sister moving away and gifting me a bunch of ingredients I don’t normally use. So we decided to finally use them. After soaking way too many (rookie mistake) we made a giant pot of chilli and a strange let’s-just-wing-it concoction that was supposed to be soup and ended up being burritos. We’d never made either of those recipes before but they both turned out really good, used ingredients we already have, and fed us for a combined five days (including left over lunches!).
So the next time you look into your pantry and think that there’s “nothing to eat”, look again. What about those dried kidney beans? Or that random jar of soup your Mom gave you last time you visited? Can you make a meal out of that? Shopping your pantry will help you save money on groceries, waste less food, and discover new recipes, what’s not to like?
$100 Give Away
As the title mentioned, this post is part of a Give Away Series that I’m participating in. Entry is simple, just follow the instructions in the widget below for your chance to win either a $100 Amazon gift card or $100 via PayPal.
So, what ingredient is sitting at the back of your cupboard, lonely, unused and just waiting for it’s chance to shine? I want to know!