How to save time and energy using meal planning

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I stood at the checkout, nervously watching as the total climbed, hoping it would match the tally in my head. I handed over the precious bills from a dog-eared envelope marked “Groceries”, the steadily reducing amount scrawled on the front read $140, $120, $100, $80. We were down to our last dollars. We’d been paid everything we were owed and there was no new work in the pipeline. We had a nine-month-old at home and a mortgage to pay. Times were stressful, very stressful.

The one relief was that, as I left the supermarket to take the groceries home, I knew I had enough to feed my family for the week. Come what may, I had that comfort. I had that comfort because I had a plan. I’d meticulously planned our meals for the week to match our diminished budget. From there, I’d made a list of exactly what we needed, no more, no less.

While I started meal planning out of financial necessity, five years later, with our cashflow woes long behind us, it continues to be a weekly ritual. Why do I still bother? These days, it’s less about peace of mind and more about taking a load off my mind.

Meal planning saves me time and money, but most of all it saves me from that dreaded task of trying to think up something to cook for dinner every night. If you are looking for an easy win to simplify your life, it’s meal planning. It’s not rocket science, but there are definitely some traps you want to avoid and some tricks to make it easier.

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Avoiding food waste traps – #FoodWasteFriday check in

I’m on a mission to reduce my food waste and I’ll be checking in regularly on how I’m doing as part of #FoodWasteFriday.

How to avoid food waste traps

I want to share with you this TED talk on How to Avoid Food Waste Traps by Selina Juul. Selina founded the Stop Wasting Food movement in Denmark (which is a leading nation when it comes to reducing food waste). Selina goes through common food waste traps and ways to avoid them. I particularly like her tip to take a photo of the inside of your fridge before you go shopping so you can remember what you’ve already got.

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A #foodwastefriday check – 24 Feb 17

I’m on a mission to reduce my foodwaste and I’ll be checking in regularly on how I’m doing as part of #FoodWasteFriday. Since I last checked in on 10 February 2017, here’s my progress:

Demerit: I wasted one peach and four cocktail sausages. We’ve been away on holiday, before we left I grabbed the fruit left in the fruit bowl for travel snacks. The peach didn’t survive the travel. While we were away I over-bought on the cocktail sausages. The boys did a valiant effort at eating them all up over a number days, but the last four were a stretch too far! Continue reading “A #foodwastefriday check – 24 Feb 17”

A frugal shopping challenge dishes up dividends

Confession time: I’m an over-buyer when it comes to food.

I treat grocery shopping like a guilt-free weekly shopping spree rather than gathering essentials. You always need food, right? Who am I fooling? With my weekly food bill creeping up, and my pantry and freezer full, an intervention was needed.

I took the $21 challenge – you choose an aspect of your weekly food shop (or the whole thing!) and put a $21 limit on it. The aim is to get creative with what you already have to meet most of your grocery needs. I chose to set myself a $21 limit for dinners for my family of three for a week.

What I bought and what we ate

I usually spend around $200 a week for my entire grocery shop. I spent $147.16, saving around $50.

$21 challenge, food waste, #foodwastefriday, frugal shopping, budgeting
I spent $17.01 on ingredients for dinners for the week – this is what I brought.

I spent $17.01 on ingredients for dinner for three people for seven days. From these ingredients, and what I already had in the house, I made the following meals:

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The downside of decluttering

Decluttering is not without its drawbacks. One of those drawbacks is that I’ve become desensitised to the volume of waste my lifestyle creates.

Haste to waste

When I first started decluttering 18 months ago, I agonised over the number of trash bags that I filled. Sadly, now it’s just par for the course. I give things away, donate them and recycle. Trash is my last resort, but there is still a lot of trash.

Concerns over the impact of my decluttering decisions had largely slipped from my mind, until I read The Use It Up Challenge and Our Nothing New Year on Our Next Life. Our Next Life confronts the issue of decluttering and waste from both an environmental and personal finance perspective. They argue that in a haste to declutter (this trendy thing that if you aren’t doing you think you probably should be) we are not considering waste.

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A social way to reduce food waste

It’s Friday – Food Waste Friday. I need to report in and account for my food waste, but first I must share – well a new way to share!

Introducing Social Pantry

This week I tried out a new service linking up people with food to share with those in need of food. It is called Social Pantry and it’s a network of community food sharing Facebook pages. The pages connect people who have more than enough food, with people who know someone, or are themselves, in need of a little extra.

Food waste, #foodwastefriday, social pantry, sharing economy
My first Social Pantry post

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