These 10 helpful tips for how to grocery shop smarter will not only save money, but waste less food at home so you’ll eat healthier too.
This post is sponsored by Kroger
I hate wasting food and yet I do it almost every week. I’m one of those shoppers who has grand aspirations to cook every meal, and then life gets in the way, plans change, and I don’t. I see my veggies languish in the crisper or watch bread go moldy in the pantry. I’m guilty of buying too much and not using what I have.
If you’re like me, you’re probably asking how can I spend less money and shop smarter at the grocery store? It starts by answering the question, how can I stop wasting food?
That’s why I’m changing my food wasting ways by thinking about the end result first, before I even start my grocery shopping.
Zero Hunger Zero Waste
These days it seems there’s too much waste all over our planet, and food waste is at the top of that list. Did you know Americans throw away up to 40% of the food we buy? Yet 1 in 8 Americans grapple with hunger. Our country’s hunger epidemic is heartbreaking, and while some think hunger starts with not having enough food, it really begins with how we consume it—or actually, how we don’t.
Food waste in America is a serious concern and that’s why one of my on-going goals is to shop smarter and stop throwing away so much food. I’m happy to see that companies like Kroger are getting on board with this health issue and doing their part to raise awareness.
While Kroger is constantly evolving, it’s their passion for quality products and community that keeps me a loyal fan, and I was thrilled to learn about their Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative to become a zero waste company by 2020 and a zero food waste company by 2025.
Along with that, they are accelerating company food donations to provide three billion meals by 2025 to feed people facing hunger in the places Kroger calls home. And they’re not just donating products in boxes or cans, but donating whole meals made with real food! This is a huge commitment and an honorable one that makes me prouder than ever to be a Kroger shopper.
10 Ways to Waste Less Food and Save More
When Kroger asked me to share my ideas for helping lower food waste, I was more than happy to take myself to task and commit to making change with 10 tips to waste less and save more. Clean out the fridge salad or pantry pasta anyone?
1. Make a shopping plan before you go.
In other words, have a list and stick to it so you don’t overbuy on impulse items you’ll never use. While most shoppers make one big grocery store trip a week, it’s actually best to make more grocery trips each week but buy fewer things each trip, that way food will stay fresher because you’ll use it sooner. Or, make your grocers list online and take advantage of in-store grocery shopping services for delivery or pick-up to save time and avoid any impulse shopping pitfalls.
2. Take inventory.
Make it a personal challenge at least once a week to cook with the ingredients you’ve stocked up on in your fridge and pantry and build your meals around what might be about to expire with just a few new ingredients from the store. Take advantage of the odds and ends you need to use up—you’ll be surprised by what you can cobble together when you get creative with what you have. Leftover jarred pesto with a can of beans and a half-used package of pasta and stir-fried veggies tossed together fast can make a fast and healthy weeknight meal.
3. Be realistic with your calendar.
Make the most of your best intentions and review what your weekly schedule really is. If business dinners, movies with friends, or late-evening practices or games are on the calendar, don’t try and wedge in seven nights of making meals too. Make it easy and remember that meals don’t have to be complicated to be healthy and good.
4. Embrace imperfect foods.
From cheese and meats and produce, each grocery department has a dedicated section for soon-to-expire items. Shop the imperfect produce section for older bananas (perfect for making banana bread) and bell peppers ready for stir-frys or my favorite stuffed peppers. Just today I purchased a perfectly fresh flank steak in the meat department at a $7.00 discount that I’ll be grilling tonight and then save the rest for tomorrow’s leftover dinner of ramen and broccoli with steak.
5. Plan to eat more plants.
This is one of my most favorite tips and one I am trying to incorporate more into my family’s life. Not only do you save money when incorporating more plants and less meat into your diet, it’s also better for the environment and helps reduce our carbon footprint. You’ll also extend your proteins further when you incorporate more veggies that take up more room on your plate (that way you can get two rounds of leftovers for dinner another night or lunch the next day).
6. Eat (and shop) seasonal.
Knowing what’s in season is one of the smartest ways to save money and contribute to less waste. Grocers plan on providing more seasonal ingredients at their peak to customers which lowers the price but also creates more inventory—and the potential for more waste. Build your meal plans around seasonal ingredients and buy up extra produce that can be frozen for later to take advantage of the savings.
7. Organize your fridge.
We’ve all forgotten about that bag of kale in the depths of the fridge, or those unmarked leftovers you can no longer identify. Make sure you have leftovers and older groceries that will spoil sooner at the front of the fridge and on the top shelves, with newer groceries or those that won’t spoil at the back or down below, as a helpful reminder of what you need to eat and cook first.
8. Shop the natural food bulk bins.
The natural food aisle isn’t just for granola-loving hippies anymore. Reduce waste and be mindful too when buying items in the bulk bins like nuts, grains and rice, cereals, freshly-ground nut butters, dried herbs and spices, and so much more. Not only are these ingredients top quality and available in as much or as little as you need, there’s less packaging waste so they’re less expensive too.
9. Get into batch cooking.
Along with the weekly meal plans I jot down in my Nourished Planner, I also add more batch cooking to my week to waste less and save money and time. The method is easy as you can see here. Simply batch cook five basic master recipes for a foundation of meal-prepped basics to layer, then mix and match for lunches or dinner throughout the week. No matter the size of your food budget or what flavors you crave, cooking a week’s worth of meals is time-saving, easy to accomplish, and when you follow this simple and creative plan.
9. Shop the salad and olive bar.
Does your recipe call for just a handful of spinach or a few tablespoons of olives? The salad or antipasti bar is your secret shopping haven. For those small bits of ingredients you need just a little of, don’t waste money or ingredients on buying more than you need with the remainder apt to go to waste. This tip works especially well when making homemade individual pizzas or salads where you can create each person’s own favorite order.
Did you know food waste from landfills makes up 20% of methane emissions which perpetuate climate change? So instead of tossing your vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, banana peel, etc. into the trash, put them in the compost bin and give back to the earth. New to composting? It’s actually easier than you may think, with these easy composting tips to help you get started.
Bonus 11. Bag it!
A friendly reminder: Don’t forget your bags! Bring your own bag and get money back on your purchase, then hang on to your produce and bulk bags to reuse on future grocery trips. Forget them? Purchase a sturdy, re-usable bag at checkout for future grocery runs to keep the saving and wastelessness going.
Congratulations! You’ve done your diligence and shopped with purpose, and now we all have a little more green in the bank and better, greener world to show for it.
More Ways to Save More and Waste Less
- 20 Recipes You Can Make With A Can Of Beans
- 11 Use It Up Zucchini Recipes
- 20 Recipes You Can Make with A Pound of Ground Beef (It’s What’s for Dinner)
- 31 Spring Chicken Recipes to Make Now
- 31 Quick and Healthy Veggie Side Dishes in 30 Minutes or Less
5 Recipes That Will Save You Money at the Grocery Store
- One-Pot Chicken and Rice Casserole – this easy dinner feeds a family of four for under $10!
- Homemade Chicken Parmesan – chances are you already have chicken in the freezer and marinara in the pantry, so you don’t need much else to make this Italian classic!
- Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni – this pantry staple pasta is a no brainer when it comes to saving money.
- Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Chili – mainly comprised of minimal ingredients (most of them pantry items), this filling recipe makes enough for a crowd!
- Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Frittata – this vegetarian meal is wonderfully filling and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Get more information on Kroger’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste plan.
This post is sponsored by Kroger. As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. There are affiliate links in this post of which I receive a small commission. All opinions are always my own.
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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