Frugal Living

Stop wasting food with these must-have tools

Save money by wasting less food

Tools to stop food waste

If you’re anything like me, you’re kind of obsessed with food waste. Around one third of the food produced in the world gets lost of wasted. That’s a huge deal, and no doubt it has a big environmental impact. It also has an impact on our wallets.

I hate wasting food, and I try my best to use everything I can. There are a few tools that I have that make that easier, and I thought I would share them!

Some of these tools are more expensive, but they’re a good investment. This is one of those “spend money to save money” situations. But don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good! Start small, because even small steps help.

A big freezer

This is my biggest tip, and definitely the most expensive. If I was relying only on my fridge’s freezer, I’d be wasting a lot of money and a lot of food.

With this big freezer, I’m able to buy up Thanksgiving turkeys when they’re on deep discount and save them for when I want to make them. I can buy huge hunks of beef when that’s on sale, too.

My biggest tip for the freezer, though? Process your food before you feed it.

For beef, that means making burger patties, cooking it for pasta sauce or tacos, or stuffing it into muffin tins for mini meat loaf muffins.

For poultry, that means cutting up that whole chicken and portioning it out for meals. Make sure you save the carcass for broth, too!

Good food containers

I’m a huge fan of my glass containers from Ikea. It lasts forever and can go into the oven or the microwave to cook whatever is inside with minimal prep!

Plastic tupperware is fine, too, and definitely lighter and therefore more portable.

With good, airtight storage, your food will last longer in the fridge and freezer!

Recipes

If you want to use up those leftovers or scraps from a meal, you need a good recipe. Those crusts from bread that your kid had you cut off would be GREAT to use for french toast sticks. And those potato skins make for yummy oven fries.

Plastic freezer bags

I use these to store scraps that I’m going to use for broth, like celery leaves, potato skins, carrot shavings, and onion skin. I also use these for bones that we get throughout the week. When we eat chicken thighs, I have my family throw their bones in a bag in the freezer instead of the trash.

Extra ice cube trays

This goes along with my tip to process your food as soon as you buy it.

It must be something in my house, but I just can’t keep citrus from rotting within a few days. So instead of waiting for that to happen, I juice every lemon I bring into my home immediately, and freeze the juice and pulp. Once frozen, I throw them into… you guessed it! Another freezer bag!

The added bonus is that those ice cubes require no extra work to make a refreshing drink with electrolytes after a hard workout. Just pop an ice cube in!

Food dehydrator

I don’t have one of these yet, but I wish I did! You can make so many things with a food dehydrator, from dried apple slices to fruit leather, and don’t forget beef jerky!

Those dried foods will last considerably longer, so you’re less likely to have it go to waste before you can eat it.

Canning supplies

A few Ball jars, a canning bath, and some water are all you need to save the fresh produce you get at the peak of its freshness. Once canned, those foods will last for ages and will taste delicious almost forever!

And even if you don’t want to can, these jars can be used and reused almost forever to store dry goods and truly keep insects out of them. 

Clips

Useful for closing up any kind of bag, clips are a necessity for every kitchen. I use standard binder clips because they close more tightly than chip clips, but use whatever works for you. You can get quite a few binder clips for a dollar at the Dollar Tree.

I use these clips to keep my flour tightly closed to keep bugs out, to close frozen fruit and veggie bags so they don’t get freezer burned, and yes, for chips.

DIY Emergen-C Drink Mix

DIY vitamin C powder to boost your immune system and fight off colds and flus

I don’t know about you, but I love vitamin C drinks when I’m feeling sick. Sure, they might not work to stop a cold or flu, but they definitely make me feel better. And the placebo effect is good enough for me!

Let me guess. Your nose is runny, your chest feels tight, and your whole body aches?

Brand name mixes can be really expensive, though, and you never really know what’s in those things. And isn’t that one of the reasons we get into DIY stuff? To avoid those huge markups that brands think they can get away with?

And I like to take these every day if I can, and when these packets can cost up to a dollar per peck, that adds up pretty darn fast.

I hate chewables and I already take enough pills every day. And I love citrus fruit, but sometimes a girl has to give her teeth a break from that acid and sugar, right?

These packets don’t only help with immunity. They can make your skin glow and vitamin C is known to protect against cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and wrinkles. Wow!

Taken down to the basics, these packs are just a few things: vitamins, sweetener, flavoring, and a foaming agent.

But first: Is Emergen-C just a placebo?

There are a lot of products that rely on the placebo effect. It’s important to remember that even if it’s just a placebo, it is still helping you. Placebos are useful medicine, too, and shouldn’t be immediately written off.

For vitamin C drinks, the research is still pretty limited as to their effectiveness. The most relevant studies show that while vitamin C drinks don’t necessarily stop colds, they do act as adaptogens that can help you fight off colds during stressful times. So if you’re going into finals week, it may be worth it to drink some of the powder you’re about to make!

Research has also found that taking drinks like Emergen-C does shorten the duration of colds.

This is one of those cases where there is very little harm and a lot of possible good you can get from these drinks. So why not try it?

So what do you need?

  • Vitamin C powder
  • True Lemon or another brand of real lemon powder

Making this is simple. Measure a 1:1 ratio, and keep it in a mason jar. A serving size is 1tbs of the mix.

Store it in a dry and dark place. Vitamin C is unstable and oxidizes when exposed to air, light and heat.

And you can add any number of things to make this vitamin C powder taste better. I’m going to try it with some green tea in a day or two.

It won’t foam like the brand name, but you’re saving a ton of money and you get to make it taste exactly how you want. And even better, there’s less paper and plastic waste!

Other uses for your vitamin c powder

  • Emergen-C can be used to preserve your hair color. Apply it to your hair for 5 minutes to dissolve the iron and alkaline deposits your hair gets from hard water.
  • Vitamin C powder can be added to your moisturizer for beautiful skin. Just skip the True Lemon.

Use up leftover food before it expires with these hot tips

Stop wasting food #zerowaste

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I truly hate wasting food. I always feel so guilty when I have to throw food away.
Of course I know that expiration dates are mostly just suggestions, but food does eventually sour. And then there’s nothing you can do but throw it away or compost it.
But there is an in between state where food has almost gone bad. That’s when it’s most important to use up your foods before they go really bad.

Stop letting food go to waste and save some money with these tips

Here are some ways to use food that isn’t bad yet but will be soon:

  1. Use old mayonnaise to shine stainless steel appliances. It sounds disgusting,but the oil content really makes stainless steel shine!
  2. Did your brown sugar turn into a brick? Bring it back to life with your blender! Just blend it up to loosen it.
  3. You can use expired pasta and cereal in art projects with your kids.
  4. Are your veggies about to go bad? Chop them and throw them in the freezer! Then you can easily add them to soups or even improve some cheap and easy ramen with them.
  5. You can use Greek yogurt that is past it’s prime as a face mask. The lactic acid will exfoliate dead soon cells gently. Just mix it 2 to 1 with honey. Then apply it to your face and let sit a few minutes.
  6. Use stale bread to create croutons or to make breading for chicken and pork chops.
  7. Overly ripe avocado isnt great to eat, but it is the perfect treatment for your hair.
  8. Use berries in smoothies, jams or preserves.
  9. Squeeze all lemons and limes and save the juice by freezing it in ice cube trays.
  10. Use up milk with baking projects or a batch of hot chocolate. And slightly soured milk can be used as an alternative for buttermilk, so you can make some biscuits!
  11. Everyone knows this one: turn overripe bananas into banana bread!
  12. Ground coffee is great for face scrubs! Used on their own with some water or when mixed with milk, you will reveal beautiful skin with this scrub.
  13. Turn fruit into fruit leather by dehydrating their puree.
  14. Old eggs can’t be used whole, but if you keep the shells you can use them crushed up to improve your garden soil.
  15. Turn peanut butter into protein bars with some oats, nuts, and dried berries.
Go zero waste by using up all of your left over food before it goes bad. Stop throwing away your food!

How do you use food that’s about to expire?