These are pretty stressful times for everyone, especially if your financial situation has been rocked like a hurricane, abruptly with no warning. For those of you who have never really had to budget for food before or now facing a significant pay cut or going on EI, let me tell you how I reduced our food budget by half by making these big changes. Six months ago, our family decided to make a major life change by living with less and it all was triggered right in the kitchen. I was really sick to my stomach of the amount of food I was throwing out and that lead into a full-on tidying marathon that unravelled a lot of layers of how I was living and raising my girls. This lifestyle change honed in our spending habits, improved our family relationships, and created time, money, and energy to spend on things that mattered the most. Here are a few kitchen tips that your family can try to help you slash your food budget during this Covid-19 outbreak and continue in the future.
- Begin Treating Your Kitchen Like A Business. If you have ever worked in the back of a restaurant, you know how important inventory is. That is why de-cluttering is the perfect place to start. It’s difficult to shop and budget when you have no idea what you even have to begin with. So once you clean out your fridge, freezer, and pantry out, take stock of what you already own. Before you put it all back, look for patterns. Notice how many duplicates you have. Remove anything that has expired and take note of how much you have wasted. The next thing you need to do is start to look back to your last three months of statements and figure out how much money you have spent on groceries and eating out at restaurants. This will give you a baseline. From here on in, track every dollar you spend on your food. The more you are aware of your spending, the more disciplined you will be to not waste.
2. Organize Your Kitchen For Optimal Usage. When I help people de-clutter their kitchens, one thing I notice is that most people are prone to stockpiling, even on the best of circumstances. A visual trick I use is to make space around your food items. You will be able to see what you own better, utilize before it goes bad, and keep like-items together so your whole family knows where to find it. When you have a jam-packed pantry, you’ll just end up shopping for items you already have because you couldn’t see it hidden in the back of the fridge. If you look in my fridge or pantry, you will notice that it isn’t really full. We have the basics and the amount of produce we can handle eating in one week.
3. Watch Your Family’s Eating Habits. This was one of the biggest changes we implemented in our family. We don’t eat a tonne of leftovers but I continued to cook big portions for our family of four. The leftovers would then get tossed because no one wanted to eat the same thing over and over. Watch what they eat a lot of, when they are eating, why they are eating. This will all reflect on the amount of food your purchase and cook.
4. Reverse Grocery List. Food waste was a big problem for me. I was wondering why we couldn’t get through the food we bought before it went bad. One reason is that we were also eating out at restaurants because it was quicker and more convenient and I wasn’t making the adjustment. Once I tracked my spending and realized how big that restaurant tally actually was, I put that to a grinding halt. It adds up… that $3.50 from Tim Hortons, that $10.50 from Subway… it was nuts! It only takes $27.40/day of miscellaneous spending to blow $10,000 in a year, and I considered food waste to be one of these areas where I could improve our cash flow. The best way you can track your food waste is to complete a Reverse Grocery List. Just like when you make a list for your weekly grocery run, create a list of the food that is actually hitting your garbage can. Put a dollar amount beside these items and tally it each week. This will give you a better perspective of what your family is not eating and you can adjust your shopping or cooking accordingly. The week that I decluttered my kitchen, I had thrown out over $75 worth of groceries. Visualize the food that’s going into the garbage as actual money.
5. Flip Your Meal Planning On It’s Head. I often resorted to planning my meals for the week by sifting through recipes, asking my family what they are wanting to eat, but that was completely the wrong way to approach it. The best way to save money on your grocery bill is to utilize what you already have in your kitchen and build your meal plan from there. Sometimes, it’s like an episode of Chopped in our house, and it’s made cooking a lot of fun. Sure, it’s definitely more challenging, but it’s worth it! Shop with intention, with a list, with a budget. The best tool I use is Superstore’s online Click & Collect option where there is an actual budget tracker that tallies as I’m shopping. It eliminates me from going over my budget. Lastly, finding ways to utilize an entire food item also takes a bit of planning… I’ve been getting really good at making soups, stocks, and stews! One trick I use is to cook an entire protein and use it in different ways like a whole chicken, pot roast, or ham. Price/pound is significantly cheaper this way. You can’t go wrong cooking from scratch.
These are just a few tricks up my sleeve that helped me significantly slash my food budget. If you need help in this department, I gotcha! I am available for online virtual consultations during this pandemic and I’m happy to help where I can!
~Blog Written By Jessica Dunn – De-Clutter Expert & Listing Specialist ~
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