Ways to Cut Down On Food Waste in 10 Easy Steps

How to Cut Down On Food Waste in 10 Easy Steps- Chic and Domestic
How to Cut Down On Food Waste in 10 Easy Steps- Chic and Domestic

Food waste is a serious issue in many areas of the world. Not only is it a serious issue because wasted food is wasted money, but let’s just be real, there are too many people in the world going without. One of the changes I wanted to make this year was really trying to cut down on the amount of food being wasted in our house. This might be easier said than done because you know, kids, buttt I’ve been trying my hardest in other ways to do my part.

We talk so much about saving money on groceries, and the importance of meal planning and meal prepping here on the blog all the time, but what if an easy way to give your pockets a break is sitting right in front of you? Here are some things that I’ve been doing, trying, and want to try in the future to really focus on this goal this year, and of course save myself a bit of money.

1. Store food correctly
This is complete trial and error for me, I won’t lie to you guys. There is an actual method to storing your food and getting it to last longer, but I have yet to master that method completely. I will say that I’ve invested in some pretty great storage containers, and I’ve been storing my herbs differently and it’s been going good so far but I still have a lot to learn. Research some of the proper storage techniques for some of your own frequently used fruits and veggies.

Check out my pinterest board for kitchen hacks here!

2. Keep your refrigerator clutter free
I like to keep things clutter free in general but I hate for my refrigerator to ever get cluttered. It makes it easy for things to get lost and go unused. It also causes you to rebuy things that you already have on hand. Often times it ends up being things that are unopened, barely used, or still within their life expectancy. Clutter is a huge culprit when it comes to food waste.

Be sure to subscribe and look out for some very useful home organization tips!

3. Understand your expiration dates
So many people are misinformed when it comes to the difference between an expiration date and a sell by date. Don’t be so quick to toss things that still have some life to them.

4. Save your leftovers
Sounds pretty simple right? No matter how big or small the amount of food, try saving your leftovers instead of tossing them in the trash. You can use leftover meat or veggies in a new meal, or carry it for lunch the following day.

5. Pack your lunch
Pack your lunch in the first place! Instead of grabbing something to eat during your lunch hour and again, possibly stretching your pockets, pack your lunch. This will help you to use up leftovers from dinner, and also use up groceries that would otherwise go bad before you’re able to get to them.

6. Use your peels
Instead of tossing your fruit and vegetable peels, use them. Fruit infused water is the new thing. You can use things like cucumber, lemon, and orange peels to add to your water. Both useful and visually appealing. I’ve personally used peels for home fragrances and cleaning and I don’t think I’ll ever toss them again. Another great way to utilize your peels? Just eat them. Eat them, use them for zest, or compost all together.

7. Use your foods for DIY
Don’t look at me crazy just yet, but a really cool way to use up things like ripe fruits or veggies is to use them for a DIY natural beauty alternative. Foods like avocados, lemons, cucumbers, and even mayonnaise can be great in hair and skin masks. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and prevents more food waste.

8. Utilize your freezer
Freezer meals are obviously a huge thing. Who doesn’t love the convenience of just grabbing, defrosting, and reheating? There are so many ways to utilize your freezer, and so many things that spring right back to life after some time in the freezer. Let’s go back to #4 for a second. Not everyone enjoys leftovers and eating the same thing more than once in a week. Instead, why not freeze things for a later date? Store it correctly and it will not only mean you’ve avoided wasting food, but you’ve also made dinner for a busy day in the future.

Check out my post “How To Store Freezer Meals Like a BOSS” here!

9. Make your own stock
I save veggie scraps like nobody’s business! Have you ever made homemade chicken or veggie stock? Let me tell you, it’s nothing like that stuff that you grab off of the shelf at the grocery store. Not only is it a great way to use things that you would otherwise throw away, but it also has the benefit of knowing exactly what’s in your stock. Plus it tastes better too.

10. Get creative in the kitchen
One of the greatest things you can do is to get creative in the kitchen. Just think of #7 on our list! Toss something extra into a salad, soup, or any other dish you can think of and try something new. Put together some new combinations, and most of all, have fun with it.

What are some ways that you guys cut down on food waste? Are these some things that you plan to utilize in the future? Let me know in the comments. 

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How To Store Freezer Meals Like a BOSS

In my part 2 of my Freezer Meals 101 series, I’ll be explaining some tips for storing to give your food’s freshness an extended expiration date. If you caught my previous freezer meal post, you’ll know that saving money and time has inspired me to revisit freezer meal planning, and prepping. In my other post, I talked all about planning your meals and how the art of freezer meal prepping is what you make it.

First things first, let’s talk about how to properly store your meals to stay fresh, and conserve your freezer space. You’ll never be able to enjoy those delicious freezer meals you’ve prepared if by the time you pull them out to cook, they’re covered in freezer burn.

Some Things You’ll Need:

Permanent Marker
It’s essential that whatever you do, you’re able to label your foods. A month from now, you’re going to want to know what everything is before you grab it, and exactly when you made it. Nobody likes to play the fresh or not guessing game when it comes to their food.

Plastic Wrap
Any one of your preferred plastic cling wraps works just fine. You can use plastic cling wrap to individually wrap your portions of meat for freezing. Since the portions will be placed in freezer bags they’ll be protected from the cold. The plastic wrap serves to block out air from touching your food. Air is actually what causes freezer burn on your foods.

Ziplock bags
Do not cut corners when it comes to your ziplock bags! Make sure to use freezer quality bags to protect your food from the extreme cold. I’m just as fabulously frugal as the next person, but I’ve found that cheaper storage bags are much thinner, and will have you regretting it when after all of your hard work, you find that your tasty meals are now freezer burned. That’s not good for anyone.

Foil pans or non-aluminum baking pans
This won’t be a necessity for everyone. It obviously all depends on what you’re choosing to freeze and how you’re choosing to freeze it. Foil pans are good options for lasagna or casseroles for you to freeze and just pop in your oven later. Kind of like make your own Stouffers. It’s actually best to buy inexpensive, disposable pans for the purpose of freezing because you end up throwing them right in the trash after eating. If I ever use pans I still make sure to ziplock them for extra protection from the cold anyway, so buying expensive pans for disposable would be a waste. Also, (just a tip) if you’re preparing freezer meals to be gifted, this will be perfect so that the recipient won’t have to worry about returning your dish after enjoying the meal.

Freezer Tape
Freezer tape is the best option as opposed to other kinds of tape. Remember, it has to stay sticky when it’s frozen, be durable enough to withstand the cold temps, and stick to various surfaces. Most importantly, you have to be able to write on it without smudging and fading. Freezer labels are also a great choice if you can find them, because it basically kills two birds with one stone.

Some Tips For Labeling:

Always remember the date!
I’ll mention this a few times throughout this post about the importance of adding the date to your meals. I can’t stress this enough. I actually like to label my bags before packaging everything up. It’s easier to write on an empty bag, and it helps to not forget things that I need to label.

Label Your Foods
(Obviously) You want to know what everything is when you’re ready to go back and cook it. Too many things start to look alike.

Include Cooking Instructions
If your meals come with a lot of specific cooking instructions, make sure to add that somewhere on your label. I skip this a lot, mostly because I’m the only one who really cooks in my house, and I already know how I want the meals prepared. This is a great thing to do if your significant other cooks, or you have older children who sometimes handle dinner. It will prevent a lot of headache to mention that this meal goes in the crock pot, or this should be cooked frozen in the oven for 30 minutes.

Some Tips For Packaging:

Portion sizes before freezing
I’ve found this to be most convenient when I’m separating marinated meat, but it’s also a GREAT way to store soups. When I make a large pot of soup or chili, I find that it’s better to freeze one large bag (for family meals) and a few smaller bags. (for individual bowls) and that way if you just want a bowl to yourself, you aren’t thawing and heating an entire pot of food for one.

Wrapping Meat vs Bagging Meat
Meat that involves a marinade should be stored in its own personal ziplock bag. Meat that will be going into a pot or crockpot with beans, corn, or raw veggies (like a soup or stew) can be stored in a ziplock bag together. Meat that will go with a side of veggies are better wrapped and separated. (I hope that made sense!) If you’re storing something like marinated cilantro lime chicken, store it bagged and ALONE. If you’re storing something like Chicken Tortilla Soup that you plan to throw in a crockpot, you can store it bagged and TOGETHER. If you’re storing raw chicken, a side of fresh broccoli, and red potatoes, wrap your chicken FIRST, and bag everything as one meal.

Avoiding air pockets
Huge, HUGE tip is to avoid air at all costs. When you’re packaging all of your foods, remember to remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing. Be your own food saver!

Some Tips For Freezing:

No glass or plastic containers
Glass breaks, which is a MESS (although I have successfully frozen things in mason jars before, still wouldn’t recommend it) Plastic containers can end up being a waste of space, and they also put you at risk for too much air exposure which will freezer burn your food.

Allow cooked foods cooling
If you’re freezing cooked foods, you have to give your food cooling time. Your freezer will have to work ten times harder to bring down the temperature of food that’s freshly cooked, and this can also cause other things in your freezer to start to thaw. Cool down first, and then store.

Some Tips for Storing:

Store your meals flat
Storing your meals flat is your best bet your convenience, because it makes them freeze quicker, and thaw quicker when it’s time to cook them. It also helps to maximize storage space in your freezer because you can stack them, and once they’re frozen, you can also lean them up against the freezer if need be.

Older items at the front, new items at the back
This just makes it easier for you to cook your older meals first to ensure that no food is going to waste.

How To Store Freezer Meals Like A Boss. Freezer Meal Prep 101 - Chic and Domestic
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20 Ways To Save On Your Groceries

20 Ways To Save On Your Groceries - Chic and Domestic

I’ve notice that out of all of the widely discussed financial subjects, the cost of groceries seem to come up time and time again. The conversation usually consist of the many ways to decrease a household budget. Even more importantly, the various ways to decrease a household grocery budget. The grocery budget alone is usually one of the largest household bills for a family. The larger your family, the larger the budget. When you get fed up with spending SO MUCH on food, I mean really fed up with not fully maximizing your savings, you start to take certain steps to attempt to decrease your budget. I’m here to tell you a few things that you could try if you aren’t trying them out already, and do not forget that every penny counts when we’re talking about saving money!

1. Make a Grocery List
Never walk into the grocery store without a list. No matter how good you think you are at just grabbing and going. You. Are. Not. You’re grabbing things without a plan, and when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The times that I didn’t come into the store, list in hand, were the times that I got home thinking that we were having burgers for dinner, only to realize that I grabbed everything but the meat, or everything but the buns to put them on.

2. Stick to one day of grocery shopping
Spending less time in the grocery store, means spending less money in the grocery store. This is where that handy dandy grocery list comes in, because you won’t come home to see that you’ve forgotten something. Having to come back leads you to not only have to take a second round trip to the grocery store, but possibly come home with a little bit more than you needed.

3. Stay away from inner aisles
This is a great rule to live by if you’re trying to eat healthier, but also a good rule to follow when you’re trying to save money. Inner aisles carry a lot of processed food of course, but it also carries a lot of things that you can save money on and make yourself.

4. Become a store rewards member
Remember what I said that every penny counts when you’re trying to save money. Invest your time in filling out one of those quick little store slips, and activate a member rewards card. Instant savings! Kroger does Friday freebie offers for rewards members, so does Farm Fresh if you have their store app. That’s money you can possible save right there. Being a rewards member also puts you up for store savings, and sales that are exclusive to rewards members. Imagine coming in to catch a sale, and getting extra money off just for scanning your card.

5. If you can, grow your own
This is a hit or miss. Not everyone has the option, and not everyone has a green thumb to grow an entire garden full of produce. I’m not naturally a person with a green thumb. I ultimately suck at keeping things alive. Baby steps are important, so if you decide to try this route, take your time and start an herb garden first, and then start to expand with some of your favorites veggies in a small garden.

6. Use coupons, Don’t use coupons
If you’re a coupon addict, use them! Of course it saves you money. Learning to coupon can be extremely beneficial for grocery savings. BUT, don’t fall into a coupon trap and start to buy things that you probably won’t use, or things that you wouldn’t normally need. Even when you’re saving with a coupon deal, you’re wasting when it later sits and collects dust in your pantry.

7. Utilize your rebates
Along with coupons, utilize your rebate apps. I’m HUGE on my rebate apps. I receive money for basically buying things that I would normally be walking into the store to buy. It’s great! My go to favs are Ibotta (Use my referral code niqaqku to receive $10 just to try the app) Mobi Save, and Checkout 51 are great too. You’re able to cash out and receive cash or gift cards for your purchases.

8. When in Walmart, Use Savings Catcher
I’m a Walmart girl all the way, so when I shop there I always remember to use my savings catcher app. Walmart takes pride in their super low prices, so with the savings catcher app, you just scan your receipt and it checks for lower prices in your area. If a store has lower advertised prices, then you’ll receive the difference to your Savings Catcher app. You can easily cash out onto a Bluebird card (My preference) or Walmart Pay to utilize in store and online at Walmart.

9. Don’t be afraid of Generic
Not everything needs a name brand. I like to splurge on little things that I like here and there just as much as the next person, but is it really worth it to buy the name brand box of pasta that’s significantly higher than the generic store brand? I buy generic whenever I can if it saves me a few dollars. Sometimes stores even give you extra rewards perks for buying their store brand products!

10. Stay away from convenience
Convenience meals are great for convenience, my husband isn’t a huge cook so I do still keep a few things for him to just pop in the oven and eat. As far as being mindful of what I’m spending, I stay away from those easy convenience meals as much as possible. That can easily eat up your money, they aren’t always the healthiest, and Meal Prepping and making your own to store or freeze for later probably tastes 10 times better than anything from the freezer aisle.

11. Scan the shelves, REALLY scan the shelves
Companies and brands actually pay for their shelf positions. Grocery stores tend to place more expensive items on the shelves at an eye level position for us to see first. It’s so important to scan the shelves for the items that you’re looking for that might come at a cheaper price point.

12. Rain Checks
I feel like a lot of people don’t utilize rain checks, or even know that rain checks are a thing. Stores will give you sort of an IOU if a sale item is sold out at the time so you can come back later and receive it.

13. Consider keeping your children home (If possible)
As a mother, ohhhh YES your kids will absolutely add to your grocery budget! Especially if you have multiple children. They ask for things, then the other one asks for things, and sometimes “No.” isn’t as easy as it should be. If you have kiddos with the “Oohs and Ahhs” syndrome, then when it is an option, shop alone.

14. Ditch the packaged spice mix
I know some people live for buying packaged spice mixes for convenience. They can be great for a new flavor that you just want to try out, but truth be told, it’s more beneficial to just whip up your own with the spices from your cabinet. Instead of using that one package of taco seasoning, you could have bought cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and mixed your own. It also gives you variety for when it’s time to season other dishes at a later date.

15. Shop your circulars
By checking your weekly circulars, you can buy according to sales items. If you don’t get the newspaper, or if you’re more of a digital person, the Retale app is great! It will basically do everything for you. It shows you all of the weekly ads from your local grocery stores (any stores actually!) It lets you figure out where to get the best deal on items that you’re looking for. While youre browsing the ads, you can actually click the items that you’re interested in and add them to your shopping list. It also puts you in place to find store coupons, add your rewards card numbers right into the app, and add your own clipped coupons all within this one app.

16. Scan sales first, meal plan second
It’s beneficial to scan circulars for what’s on sale FIRST, before planning out what you’ll be cooking for the week. Instead of planning for beef this week, plan for chicken, because chicken is what’s actually on sale.

17. Meal plan in general!
Meal Planning, Meal Planning! If you aren’t already hip to meal planning, it’s time to GET HIP. Knowing what you’re eating ahead of time means less time in the grocery store, less time worrying about what’s for dinner, and less money spent on groceries that end up going to waste. Check out Meal Planning 101 for some tips and tricks to get yourself started.

18. Know the average cost to properly compare costs
It’s VERY important to know what the average costs are for your regularly purchased household items. How will you know you’re really getting a deal, or maximizing your savings if you don’t know what you regularly spend? I currently don’t, but I plan to try to start keeping my own running list of prices in my family budget binder.

19. If it’s on sale and you’ll use it, BUY IT
There’s nothing wrong with stocking your kitchen! (Within reason of course) If you happen to catch a good sale on your family’s favorite kinds or brands of meat, or even canned goods, buy them. If it’s something that you know you’ll utilize, it will not go to waste.

20. Proper Food Storage
A great way to make sure that you aren’t wasting money on groceries, is to learn how to properly store your food. I’ve had my share of trial and error with accidentally freezing my lettuce in my refrigerator (Oops!), and within a day or so my half eaten head of lettuce had to go in the trash. What a waste! Make sure you’re storing things in the proper places and in the proper temperatures to prolong the life of your groceries.

I hope some of these things were helpful to you. Don’t let that grocery budget kick your butt forever. Every penny saved is a big deal. Even if you can only start one of these tips before your next grocery trip, do it. Start small, and watch your wallet thank you.

20 Ways To Save On Your Groceries - Chic and Domestic
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