Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beginner's Guide: Using What You've Got

While I am a little lenient on the expiration dates on items, I know not everyone is. If you end up throwing lots of things away, then you're not really saving any money. How can I make sure I don't forget about something I've bought before it expires? What about stuff I've never bought or eaten before?
My first suggestion is to put the newest stuff you just bought in the back. Have you ever dug to the back of a grocery shelf to get the milk that has the expiration date that is furthest out? Same idea. Put the stuff that will last the longest in the back, and the stuff that will be expiring soon towards the front. Then when you go to grab that box of pasta for dinner in a hurry, you're sure to grab the oldest stuff first!

If you find something that's a really great deal, but haven't ever tried it before, it's sometimes hard to come up with something to make for dinner out of it. If it's a new product, often times it will have different recipes on it. The company realizes it's a new product, and wants you to see what great & tasty things you can make with it. If it doesn't, or if it's a product that's been on the market for a while, but you, personally, haven't tried it yet, then you might not be so lucky. Since I spend my time scouring the deals each week, and trying to come up with great dinner recipes, I would also recommend that you check my blog out (I know, shameless plug, but you're already here!) for my "Cooking the Deals" posts. You might also find some other yummy dinner, that you've never tried before!

This rolls into my next suggestion... make a meal plan! Whether you do it for the week or the month, it will help you use what you have on hand, and avoid going out to dinner, where you will end up spending more.

My last suggestion would be to clean out your cupboards every now and then (maybe two to three times a year). The hubbs and I have found that whole wheat pasta is not to our liking, but I got a couple boxes for free to try out. They've just been sitting there, because we don't want to eat them. Same thing with some cereal that I thought he might like, that he didn't. I pulled those out just the other day when I went though my stockpile, and put them in a box. I will be bringing them either to church where they have a box they bring to a local food shelf, or to the school I work at, where we just started a food shelf for some of our students that are in need (I haven't decided which one yet!).

What other ideas do you have that you'd like to share about how to make sure your deals (and money!) don't go to waste?

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