There it is… That irrefutable stench that attacks your face immediately as you open the fridge. ‘What is it now?’ your inner dialog plays as you scan for the food you’ve let go to waste. We’ve all been there. I thought I would grow out of it when I left college, but boy was I wrong.
With my schedule it’s almost impossible to buy groceries, especially when I’m cooking for one. Many of us have the same issue, and end up throwing things away when they expire. If you only could go to the store every day to get exactly what you need… But who’s got the time for that?
Maybe you’ve succumb to a life of take out and restaurants. There’s nothing wrong with a good meal without the effort, but the money drain is the worst! Join me as I share my top grocery hacks that will make your wallet (and stomach) happy.
1. French Press Coffee + Powdered Cream
One of my roommates got a french press a few months ago, and it has become an integral part of our home. It’s fantastic because you only make as much coffee as you need, and avoid spending money on K cups for the Keurig. A couple spoonfuls will do the trick, and the coffee grounds last forever!
I usually fluctuate between adding cream or going black for my morning cup. I used to buy the refrigerated liquid creamers that would go bad in a few weeks, but I recently made the switch to powder. Offering many of the same flavors, powdered cream won’t go bad or make your coffee cold when you mix it in. Now I never fear the chunky pour!
2. Opt for Oatmeal over Cereal
Although I have a deep love for Honey Nut Cheerios, the combination of the cereal going stale and milk going bad made this breakfast option not worth it. Instead, I make a pouch or two of oatmeal, which has a lengthy shelf life. My all time favorite is Quaker Select Starts SuperGrains Instant Hot Cereal in the honey almond flavor!
To enhance my breakfast, I also like to stir in a spoonful of peanut butter. This adds protein and is the perfect kick start for a full day. Enjoy this sweet and healthy alternative that won’t leave you crying over sour milk.
3. Frozen Protein
This is probably one of my favorite hacks, because it raised the bar for the type of meals I can make at home. Purchasing protein in the frozen aisle has a lot of benefits. They are easier to prepare, and can last in the freezer without losing integrity. Some come with seasoning already added, making meal preparation even simpler!
The best part is the opportunity you still have in actually cooking a meal. After thawing anything is possible, and don’t have to succumb to a lifetime of pre-made frozen dinners! I always keep around Gorton’s Simply Bake Tilapia (which actually cooks in a pouch that pops in the oven), and Market Pantry’s Chicken Breast.
4. Canned or Frozen Side Dishes
Right now, I have about 4 bags of different frozen vegetables in my fridge. They’ll taste just as good today as they will in a few months, and are great to have around. I buy the microwaveable steam bags and sautee them with seasoning after thawing, making the taste comparable to fresh.
Anything I can get in a can (like beans or soup) I usually do, because these items last the longest. Most often I purchase Market Pantry’s Low Sodium Black Beans, which mixed with rice can be used as a side dish for multiple meals. I also always keep Amy’s Organic Chili around, because it makes a delicious and filling meal all by itself (okay, maybe with a sprinkle of cheese and some tortilla chips)!
5. Share the (Perishable) Goods
If you live with others, take advantage of splitting items to reduce cost and waste! There is so much to benefit from sharing items that will go bad if you buy on your own.
My roommates and I have select items that we take turns buying, like butter and condiments, which would normally be too much for one person to use in ample time. Since we all keep busy, we let each other know when there are items in the fridge that will soon go bad. By communicating we help each other save money and keep items from expiring.
6. Always be Prepared
Because most of these have a long shelf life, make sure to always stock up when you go to the grocery store. If you’re like me, it’s hard to find time to grocery shop consistently. Being prepared helps alleviate this issue, and keeps you from unnecessarily spending on delivery when you get home.
When looking for housing, we were especially pleased with the farmer’s market that is located right around our block. I love fruit, but had stopped buying it because of how quickly it rotted. Now it’s just a skip away, along with all sorts of veggies, bread and eggs ripe for the picking! Proximity to fresh foods is certainly something to consider, and is something I’m really appreciative of here!
Some other things I consider are the meals expected to be eaten at home in a given time. I do this to prioritize eating items that will go bad most quickly, and not over-buying fresh items.With a purchasing strategy and a pinch of planning, efficiently eating is achievable!
What other things do you do to master your groceries? Key me in on your best hacks, and I hope you enjoyed hearing about mine!
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