My father used to refer to the fridge as the ‘rotter’, as in food went there to go bad. Being afraid of having your expensive food go bad in the fridge is one of the biggest barriers to buying healthy food. My last post on saving money dealt with strategies for saving money shopping. Here are my tips for making sure to get the most out of what you buy.
1. Plan ahead. It’s much more efficient to plan what you want to eat for the week, buying key ingredients to make an exciting new recipe or two. Don’t just go to the grocery store and buy everything that looks good! Try to overlap some key ingredients, especially fresh herbs. Also think about what your week looks like – there’s no use in planning elaborate dishes during a week when you have a lot of stuff on the go, so be sure to plan accordingly. Busy weeks sometimes call for no more than a big container of organic spinach (to use in smoothies) and a big batch of something healthy and delicious, such as a lentil salad or a quinoa bowl.
2. Buy veggies with more than one use to avoid ‘produce pressure’. Greens like spinach, collard greens and kale can be used in salads, thrown into smoothies, soups or egg dishes, or wilted down with a little garlic (a gigantic bunch will wilt down to a small portion). And crunchy vegetables like carrots, onions and celery work well in green and grain salads, soup bases and can be used to dip into hummus or guacamole (well, not the onions).
3. Get in the habit of freezing. Growing up an only child, my mother seemed to make one dish per week. As you can imagine, I am not a big fan of leftovers and will portion out soups, stews and chilis almost immediately after cooking them. I store them in the freezer in individual portions for easy lunches or dinners when I get home late. (If this appeals to you, check out my post on soup swaps). Also, you can peel bananas and avocados and store in the freezer for easy smoothie making. No leftovers shall be boring and no bananas or avocados shall be thrown out ever again!
4. Store your fresh herbs properly. Whenever I have every fresh herb in my fridge, it’s easy to make exciting things to eat and cooking feels more fun and creative. But it’s hard to use up all the fresh herbs you buy! By storing herbs properly, you’ll get maximum shelf life out of them. Store herbs like dill, parsley and mint in a glass of water with a plastic bag overtop; store fresh basil washed and wrapped in a damp towel; store rosemary, thyme and oregano in the handy little packages that they come in.
5. Sunday = prep day. This is the one habit that most healthy people have. They spend Sunday prepping healthy food for the week. This can be as simple as making an exciting salad dressing, prepping veggies for stir fries and to use in dips, and cooking a big pot of grains. Some people even like to make sure that they prep their food as soon as they bring it home, they don’t even let it go in the fridge before getting washed and chopped. That’s a surefire way to make sure that it’s easy to reach for the lovely food you’ve bought.