Groceries can be a huge expense in your budget if you don’t plan accordingly. How can you make your groceries last longer so that you aren’t making several trips to the grocery store during the week?
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Take Inventory of Your Pantry
Do you regularly take inventory of the items in your pantry? Keeping your pantry stocked with ingredients that you use frequently. Make a list of the items and then make sure that you check for them regularly BEFORE grocery shopping. Some of my frequently used pantry items include:
petite diced tomatoes
diced green chiles
cream of chicken
cream of mushroom
all purpose flour
various hot sauce
non-stick cooking spray
Menu planning can save you a ton of money because it help you buy ingredients for specific meals instead of buying random items and then not knowing what to cook each night. How can menus help your groceries last? Well, if you have a written menu then you know which meals should be cooked first due to the freshness of certain ingredients. Once you cook a meal then you can check that meal off of your menu and see how many meals you have left until you need to get groceries again.
Creating a menu will help you see how long your groceries are lasting as well. I like to create menus for 14 days. Typically, my groceries last 3 weeks or longer. The reason is that when I cook a meal, we will usually have leftovers for lunch or for another meal at night. That helps my groceries last longer.
Download and print my grocery printable!Grocery Printable
Use Grocery Lists
Grocery lists are such a huge grocery saver, time saver, and money saver! If you make a grocery list then you are less likely to buy random ingredients that won’t be used. You are also more likely to use all of the items for your planned meals instead of claiming that you don’t have anything to eat and going out to a restaurant instead. 😉
For more information on meal planning and grocery shopping, check out these posts!
The Freezer is Your Friend
The freezer definitely makes your groceries last longer. There’s not many food items that can’t be preserved in the freezer. Typically, meat goes directly into the freezer unless it is being prepared in the next two days. Fruits and vegetables can also be preserved by washing them, cutting them into chunks, drying them off, and freezing them in a freezer-safe bag.
Prepping is a Good Thing
Prepping your food ensures that your ingredients are ready when you go to use them. It saves time in the long run and prevents wasteful habits. Some of the first food items that I prep are heads of lettuce. More details on that later.
Another favorite item to prep for breakfasts are eggs cooked in a muffin tin. They make the perfect size for a breakfast sandwich during the week. Yum!
Make Enough for Leftovers
Whether you have children, live alone, or it’s just you and your spouse, try to make enough food for a meal to have leftovers for lunch the next day or one more meal.
Eating leftovers for lunch is a great way to make your groceries last and help save on your grocery budget.
Extending the Life of Your Groceries
Some groceries have a shorter shelf-life than others. If you take time to preserve and prep the following items, then you will find your groceries lasting for longer periods of time.
Meat-Separate meat into meal portions and freeze in freezer-safe bags.
Vegetables-Wash, cut, and separate vegetables into freezer-safe bags to freeze. If you are going to use them quickly then wash and dry them thoroughly before placing them in the refrigerator. If they don’t need to be refrigerated (tomatoes, potatoes, onions, etc.) then place them in your pantry. Lettuce gets washed, chopped, spun dry, and stored in a large glass jar in the refrigerator. I usually place a folded paper towel in the bottom as well.
Fruit-Wash with soap and water or soak in a tub with vinegar and water. You can freeze your fruit the same way you do vegetables or eat them within a week a purchasing.
Tortillas-Tortillas will last a lot longer if you store them in your refrigerator.
Bread-Bread can be frozen or refrigerated to make the shelf life longer.
Stocks-You can freeze meat and vegetable stocks if they are freshly made. If they are store-bought then they have a long shelf-life anyway.