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1. Start in Your Pantry
One thing that makes your grocery bill skyrocket is food waste. At home, food waste can take several forms, such as leftovers that turn slimy and moldy in the back of the refrigerator or fresh produce that slowly rots, forgotten in the crisper drawer. You can waste food by forgetting to properly seal bags in the freezer or leaving cereal or cracker boxes open.
To begin every shopping trip with a visit to your kitchen. Take note of what you already have on hand and what needs to be eaten ASAP. You can create a pantry and refrigerator inventory using a spreadsheet or by writing out a list you hang in the kitchen.
2. Make a Plan
This helps you use up what you already have in your kitchen and allows you to limit what you purchase on your next grocery run. But there’s a right and a wrong way to plan meals. The right way to plan meals is to keep things realistic. Instead of digging into cookbooks or searching online for elaborate recipes that require both a lot of ingredients and a lot of time and effort, keep things simple.
Look for meal ideas that use what you have and that don’t require esoteric ingredients. If possible, plan your meals for the week to feature the same ingredient in different iterations. You could do a mushroom for dinner one night, mushroom and black bean enchiladas another night, and black bean soup on the third night, for example.
Along with planning the big three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), plan for snacks throughout the week. If you know you’re likely to go out to eat at least once during the week, leave room for that in your meal plan. Since the reminder are often unavoidable, plan for them as well. You can plan to have a meal for dinner one night and any leftovers for lunch the next day.