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Tips to Reduce Food Waste and Save Money

Updated on October 16, 2015
Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin (aka Michelle) is always looking for ways to save money and not waste it on things that will not matter two months from now.

Carrots in Water

If your bag of carrots seem bitter, place them in a bowl of water and cover.  Store in the refrigerator overnight to get the sweetness back.
If your bag of carrots seem bitter, place them in a bowl of water and cover. Store in the refrigerator overnight to get the sweetness back. | Source

Have A Bag of Carrots Going Stale?

What to do with that big bag of carrots that now taste a little bit bitter? They have been sitting in your refrigerator for a few weeks now and it would be a shame to throw them away.

Solution: Get a bowl with a lid and dump all the carrots into that bowl. Fill the bowl with water, cover, and refrigerate. Overnight they will become sweeter again and ready to eat or use in recipes.

This works with asparagus too! If you buy that batch of asparagus and don't plan to eat them right away, place them upright in a glass of water (like you would a bouquet of flowers) and put in the refrigerator. Try to eat the asparagus as soon as you can. Here is a recipe you can try.

Ingredients for Homemade Buttermilk

Don't want to spend a fortune on a carton of buttermilk that you will never use after this recipe? Take some powdered milk (or normal milk if you have it) with some pure lemon juice and use a whisk to get it nice and foamy.
Don't want to spend a fortune on a carton of buttermilk that you will never use after this recipe? Take some powdered milk (or normal milk if you have it) with some pure lemon juice and use a whisk to get it nice and foamy. | Source

Homemade Buttermilk - No Need to Pay for a Full Container

Ever had a recipe that called for a small amount of buttermilk, but you normally don’t use buttermilk and you don’t want to spend money on a half gallon, just to get that small amount for the recipe, because all that buttermilk will go to waste?

Solution: Take 1 cup of milk (even skim milk works well), and squeeze 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice into the milk. Take a whisk and whip it up until it lathers. You can now use this as a substitute for the buttermilk, and lemons cost a lot less than a container of buttermilk.

In my area I can get a lemon for $0.69 but a container of buttermilk is $1.99. You can also use prepared powdered milk with the lemon juice. Use a whisk to combine.

Boiled Eggs

The older the eggs are, the easier to peel so you can save on your water bill by skipping the cold water part.
The older the eggs are, the easier to peel so you can save on your water bill by skipping the cold water part. | Source

Cold Leftover Homemade Shredded Hash Browns

These hash browns really are brown!  Take a 12-inch sauté pan and cover it with olive oil on medium high heat.  Make sure the oil is hot before adding the shredded potatoes.  The potatoes will form into a cake.
These hash browns really are brown! Take a 12-inch sauté pan and cover it with olive oil on medium high heat. Make sure the oil is hot before adding the shredded potatoes. The potatoes will form into a cake. | Source

Boiled Eggs -- You May Skip the Step of Running Cold Water

No need to waste cold water after they have cooked. A farmers wife once said the fresher the eggs, the harder they are to peel. If the eggs are not as fresh (but still good to eat) they are easier to peel. I have tried on many occasions the popular notion to put eggs under cold water as soon as they are done boiling but I have found this technique never helps the eggs peel easier but I have noticed that eggs that are older seem to peel much easier. However, if your lovely mom or a favorite aunt swear by using cold water then by all means go ahead and try it.

SOLUTION: fill a saucepan with as many eggs as you wish and cover with water. Bring to a boil for 6 minutes and turn off the heat. Remove from heat and cover for a while (an hour is okay). Then put the eggs in a dish to let them cool. Once they are cool put them into the refrigerator.

If you see that your hard boiled eggs turned any kind of green color, decrease the cooking time by 1 minute, since stovetops can be different.

Store Bought Frozen Hash Browns? Really?

Depending on the area you live in, a bag of pre-shredded frozen hash browns can run anywhere between $2.99 - $3.99 a bag.

Solution: Buy a big raw Yukon Gold potato and shred it yourself using a grater. All it takes is only one big potato to feed about 4-5 people because it makes a lot of hash browns, and it is not as time-consuming as one would imagine. Another added benefit is that this homemade do-it-yourself shredded version will taste a whole lot better than the frozen kind and there are no chemicals or preservatives!

These hash browns are really brown! Take a 12-inch sauté pan and cover it with olive oil on medium high heat. Make sure the oil is hot before adding the shredded potatoes. The potatoes will form into a cake and then you will have to break it apart into pieces.

Spray with "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray if you like, then add salt and pepper for flavor. You could even get creative and add vegetables like diced onion and peppers.

Stock Up on Butter and Parmesan Cheese

Grab the opportunity to stock up on butter and hard cheeses like Parmesan when they are on sale at your local supermarket.  These items freeze really well.
Grab the opportunity to stock up on butter and hard cheeses like Parmesan when they are on sale at your local supermarket. These items freeze really well. | Source

Pricey Items Like Butter and Fresh Parmesan Cheese Freeze Really Well

Forget the powdered parmesan cheese in the green can. When you invest in a block of good Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself, you don’t need as much to bring a lot of flavor to your meals. Any food processor can grind and chop the cheese into fine grated cheese. Put the grated cheese into a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. Parmesan cheese freezes well and still keeps a good flavor with vegetables such as brussel sprouts, asparagus, pasta, or anything else you choose.

Butter is very expensive in my area: $4.99 for a box of 4 sticks; $5.99 if it’s a Name Brand like Land O’Lakes. When they go on sale at 2 boxes for $6.00 I grab them and stick them in the freezer. Now I’m stocked up for a while.

Microwavable Bacon

If you don't want to hassle with all the flying splattering grease, here is a good solution and this product keeps well in the freezer.
If you don't want to hassle with all the flying splattering grease, here is a good solution and this product keeps well in the freezer. | Source

Microwave Bacon -- Take What You Need Without the Splattering Grease!

This product saves time, a messy cleanup, and calories! I do not eat bacon on a regular basis (probably only a few times a year) because of all the MSG, chemicals and nitrates that are used in them. However every now and then I get a recipe that calls for bacon, and only 3-4 strips at that. I don’t like the messy grease splatters everywhere when making bacon and don’t like having to buy and cook the whole package just for 3-4 strips.

Recently I found a product called microwave bacon that is already cooked. You store it in the freezer and take out only as much as you need and pop it in the microwave. It gets really crunchy and there is no mess to clean up. Plus I don’t have to cook an entire package of bacon just to get a few strips for a recipe, which eliminates many calories at the same time because I won’t eat more than the required 3-4 strips!

A Box of Powdered Milk

Having a box of powdered milk in your pantry can save you money if you are not a milk drinker but need some quick milk every so often. It keeps in a pantry and dissolves easily in water. It also has many nutrients and vitamins like real milk.
Having a box of powdered milk in your pantry can save you money if you are not a milk drinker but need some quick milk every so often. It keeps in a pantry and dissolves easily in water. It also has many nutrients and vitamins like real milk. | Source

Powdered Milk -- Quick, Easy, Nutritious

Maybe you are not a milk drinker and do not keep milk stocked in your refrigerator, but then use a recipe that calls for milk. Rather than spend $2.00 or more on a carton of milk, pull out a package of powdered milk and mix it with water. There are directions on the package that explain how much powder to use with water to get the amount you need.

Powdered milk is easy to measure and instantly and completely dissolves in cold water. It is easy to use for cooking, baking, whipping, and beverages, and is ideal for homemade mixes. It is a space saver and needs no refrigeration while in powder form. It contains all the nonfat nutrients of milk. Use extra amounts to increase protein, calcium, vitamins, and other nutrients.

For best flavor after mixing with water, store in tightly sealed glass container and refrigerate overnight before serving. For more nutrients, add extra powdered milk to the water.

Organize and declutter the refrigerator and freezer

If I do say so myself this is a refrigerator that will need some decluttering and cleaning very soon!
If I do say so myself this is a refrigerator that will need some decluttering and cleaning very soon! | Source

Last but not least, clean and organize your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry

I know this is not a cooking tip, but it will tie in together at the end of the day: decluttering your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry can save you time and money and reduce waste. You’ll be able to find ingredients much easier, therefore eliminating you from going to the store and buying what you already had in there because you forgot about it. That way you won't end up with 3 bottles of Red Wine Vinegar and then have to throw it out because you couldn't use if quick enough. Yes been there done that! You will waste less food because you can quickly see what you have on hand. If both your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry are clean and organized you are more likely to eat what is on hand rather than getting takeout.

Which tip listed above do you think you will try from now on to save money?

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© 2013 Efficient Admin

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    • Efficient Admin profile image
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      Efficient Admin 3 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Hendrika - thank you for your comments and for visiting.

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 3 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Looking at this from a South African side makes this very interesting. The carrots one I know and even lettuce works, just not overnight only for about an hour. The buttermilk one I have been doing for years, and it I have to use it in something where the sole purpose is to make the dough rise, I sometimes even use vinegar! The powdered milk does not work here as it is very expensive and would work out more than just wasting some fresh milk, I do find that the long life milk keeps in the fridge for longer than the "normal" fresh milk.

    • Efficient Admin profile image
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      Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      izettl - thanks for stopping by. I hope you get a chance soon!

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 4 years ago from The Great Northwest

      This is excellent! I have that carrot problem so I will certainly try that one for sure!

      I also have to mention I am jealous of your profile. I would love to enjoy a hike, cup of coffee, a shower. I am lucky just to get the shower in as a mother of two little ones.

    • Efficient Admin profile image
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      Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Victoria Lynn - I'm so glad you can use these tips. Sometimes it's difficult to find a small container of buttermilk at the store and I'm like you I don't know what else to use it for if a recipe calls for only 1/2 cup, but I always do have milk and lemons on hand to use (those two items will never go to waste at my house). Thank you very much for the vote up and across and pin and very glad these tips will be useful.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is great! I didn't know the celery tip. I do make homemade hash browns. Love them! My favorite tip is the buttermilk. Buttermilk is great in recipes, but I have wasted it because I don't like to drink what's left. I'm pinning your tips for future reference. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting!

    • Efficient Admin profile image
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      Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Sugahware - thanks for the tip on celery - I need to try that as well because I find I have to buy a big stalk but only need a few for a recipe. With food prices as high as they are, every little bit helps. I use mozzarella cheese a lot but have not tried to freeze yet, but I will now. Thanks for reading and for your helpful comments, and for the vote!

    • Sugahware profile image

      Robyn D Bera 4 years ago from California

      I am a very budget conscious gal so I really appreciate this hub, Efficient. It kills me when I see food waste. Your tip with the carrots works for celery too. It will bring the crunch back to soft celery stalks. Some soft white cheeses (mozzarella, monterey jack) freeze really well too. Thanks for sharing! Voted up!

    • Efficient Admin profile image
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      Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      MsDora - every bit helps. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Voted Up! Very practical and useful. Thanks for these simple solutions.