So many of us don’t realise how much food we already have in our pantry before we hit the shops, in fact we have a tendency to just keep buying. For instance, I find it’s easy to buy multiple of something whilst it’s on sale, put it in the back of the cupboard and then completely forget about the additional purchases. I know I’m guilty of this at times which is why in recent weeks I’ve been making a concerted effort to change my habits.
Not only have I been checking what I already have at home before going shopping, but I’ve been taking this one step further and been planning many of my meals around items I already have. This means that I only have to buy some or even half the ingredients for a recipe as opposed to everything. The other day I found a couple of tins of water chestnut in my pantry and in my fridge was half a lettuce, a leftover piece of ginger and some carrot. The perfect beginnings to some home made San Choy Bao along with the additional purchase of some snow peas, onion, mince and mushroom. I’d completely forgotten about the caned water chestnut and this gave me the perfect opportunity to use up fresh lettuce and ginger which otherwise would have gone off and as a result gone to waste. But the fact I was using up ingredients I already had was a saving in itself because it meant I wasn’t spending money I didn’t need to.
When purchasing ingredients I also try to find multiple uses for items where I may not use everything all at once. For instance, roast pumpkin to go with a Sunday roast is all very fine unless you don’t need t use the whole portion of pumpkin. In this situation, I meal planned and my boyfriend and I used the other half for pumpkin risotto. Nothing was wasted, so no money down the drain. I personally feel like throwing food away is just like throwing cash away which is something I really struggle to come to terms with.
My advice? Shop your pantry first before you shop at your local supermarket. It’s a great way to reduce food waste and survive those months that are particularly tight financially if you need to reduce your spend a little bit. Plus, it’s oh so minimalist to use what you have and keep less in your cupboards!
How do you use your pantry at home to your advantage?