Stretch Your Food Dollars
If you've resolved to watch what you spend this year, saving on food is a great place to start. The average family of four wastes about $600 per year on food according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but with a little planning and the right tools, you can easily slash that number and still feed your family well.
1. Use Storage Containers: Storage containers make it easy to store leftovers and the best containers work to keep out air and moisture, helping extend the life of your food. Our favorites are Lock-Its from Rubbermaid, but if you're looking for a semi-disposable option, Ziploc Storage Containers with Smart Snap are a great bet.
2. Keep it cool in a Cooler: A cooler isn't just for picnics and trips to the beach. Use it throughout the year when you travel with food. Even lengthy trips home from the supermarket can take a toll on highly perishable items like milk. Our favorite is the Rubbermaid DuraChill 5-Day Cooler ($33).
3. Befriend your Freezer: Meat, bread, and even cakes freeze beautifully, meaning you can preserve them for 6 months or more. And if you're worried about buying highly perishable fresh fruits and veggies, the frozen versions typically have all the nutrients of the fresh and can be thawed one portion at a time.
4. Use a slow cooker: Slow cookers are great because they help you save two ways. When you know you're coming home to a hot meal, it's much easier to resist the temptation of picking up a pizza or takeout. But a slow cooker also lets you buy cheaper, tougher cuts of meat like beef round roast or pork shoulder and braise them until they're fall-off- the-bone tender for a fraction of the cost of pricier cuts like sirloin and tenderloin. The Hamilton Beach 6-Quart 33967 is a great buy at $60.
5. Upgrade your fridge: If you're fridge is on its last legs, consider upgrading to a new Energy Star rated model. A great fridge is not only the best way to preserve food, it also uses about half the energy of a 10-year-old model and a quarter the energy of a 20-year-old model.