It is no secret that I am passionate about reducing waste and saving money on groceries. I even wrote the book about it. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that saving money on food (and other things) is a lot more involved than merely clipping coupons or finding the cheapest price.
In fact, I would say that a bigger impact on your grocery budget (and other parts of your budget, too, I daresay) is a little thing I like to call “Inventory Control”. Yes, I gave it a fancy little title and everything, but really, the concept is quite simple: keep track of how much food you have in your house.
Before you assume that you have all of this under control already and go clicking off to other great world wide web destinations, let’s chat for a minute. I have a few questions for you:
- Have you ever unearthed a package of food that’s way past its expiration date?
- Is your freezer (pantry/fridge/cupboard) ever so full that you don’t know what’s beyond the obvious front row?
- Have you ever gone grocery shopping without a list, only to return home and find that half of what you bought you already have, and you forgot to buy half the things you really need? (Maybe that’s just a slight exaggeration?)
- So tell me. How often do you clean out your fridge/freezer/pantry/cupboards?
- Can you tell me right now off the top of your head how many cuts of meat you have on hand? How many packages of frozen vegetables? How many eggs? Or pounds of beans?
If you passed my little pop quiz with flying colors, then good for you. I mean it! You are on top of your Inventory Control, and you are well on your way to grocery budget success. But if you failed any of those questions, I have a suggestion for you.
Clean out your freezer.
That is, in fact, what I did today. The organizational bug that hit me at New Year’s still has a death grip on me, but I’m enjoying it, so I don’t mind. And the process of cleaning out my freezer was so gratifying I determined that I’m going to make it a monthly habit as preparation for my regular grocery shopping trip. There were a few things tucked in the back that I had completely forgotten about, and one or two things I realized I didn’t have (that I thought I did!).
Because I cleaned out my freezer I was able to:
- Make a large batch of chicken broth
- Make a batch of bread pudding and probably some bread crumbs as well
- Put navy beans on my grocery list because I found a ham bone
- Take stock of the cuts of meat remaining
- Make room for what I will be buying at my big monthly shop next week
- Organize what was left neatly so I can see at a glance what is available.
All that from about twenty minutes worth of work! In my opinion, the benefits of keeping my freezer (and other food storage areas, like the pantry, fridge and cupboards) neat and organized are such that I plan to work it into my monthly shopping routine. If I do it on a regular basis, it will take me 10 minutes or less to quickly go through the items in the freezer, toss out the yucky stuff, and put to use the leftover bits that need to be made into something. This will save me money because I won’t be buying food unnecessarily, and I can use what’s in the freezer to make something new (like the bread crumbs) from something that would otherwise be trashed.
How do you keep your food inventory under control?
Need some more help with your Food Inventory Control? Read about how I keep my pantry neat and organized without spending a dime.
Read many more money-saving tips in my eBook, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox. Each chapter presents a new tool that will help you save money on groceries, with an emphasis on healthy, whole foods. No extreme couponing allowed! These are all common-sense strategies that almost anyone can adapt to their personal needs and family situations. Read Crafty Garden Mama’s review (and get a discount code!) for more information. If you are interested, you can find purchasing information here.