Originally Posted by scoobers
Truthfully, I have a suspicion that the biggest problem is we're just really wasteful.
: I'm not much of a cook and I'm not good at planning meals so I end up buying a bunch of stuff thinking "yeah, maybe I'll make something with that" and then I don't and it goes bad.
Do most of you plan meals? If so, how far out?
I plan meals, but only loosely. I feel too restricted when I plan them down to the day because, really, what if I don't feel like having X on Monday when we're "supposed" to?
First of all, I always try to do a week's worthof shopping at a time, and I go with a list. When I make the list, I do two things. First, I check the cabinets and the fridge to see which staples we're running low on. Staples would be things we use all the time and that I count on having in the house whenever I need/want them: milk, bread, eggs, some canned goods, pasta, rice, beans, soy milk for dd, etc. Then, I figure out which dinners I'd like to make that week. We're a family of three, too, and I find that I really only need to make 3-4 dinners a week because the other nights we either have leftovers, scrambled eggs, sandwiches, pasta, or something equally easy. Then, once I know which dinners I want to make, I just write down which ingredients (usually produce and meat, but that wouldn't apply to you) I need, and that's it. I also put a Post-It on the fridge door with those meals listed because sometimes I get busy during the week and, even though I look in the fridge, I can't remember what I was planning on making with this or with that, KWIM? That's when waste happens for me! I've also tried to be more disciplined about freezing what I don't end up using. So, for example, last week I bought celery because I wanted to make soup, but I only used three stalks. Rather than letting the celery wither away in the fridge and constantly thinking, "I know I'll use it, I will!" I just chopped the rest of it up and froze it. Now, the next time I need chopped celery, it's in the fridge. One of these days, when I have all kinds of time (HA!) I'm going to do the same thing for onions, garlic, and parsley. It won't take long in the food processor, but I just need to do it!
BTW, if you're serious about lowering your food budget, do look around for different sources. I always spend waaaaaaaay too much at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and WF especially, marks their stuff up A LOT. I can get much better deals by driving 10 miles out of my way to a local farm. I wouldn't have known that unless I asked one of the vendors at our farmers' market if they sell their stuff anywhere else, but with a little research, I'm sure you can find better places to shop!
Hope this helps!