Why buy in bulk? It's better value, and it's good for your refrigerator, too. Start with the freezer: look for weekly sales on your favourite cuts of meat and stock up. Just seal a whole cut in its store packaging (inside a freezer bag), or portion out sizes to cook separately. Properly sealed, they'll stay freezer-safe up to six months. Fill in extra space in the freezer with sealed bags of frozen fruits and vegetables, which make side dishes and inexpensive smoothies a cinch.
In the refrigerator, leave just enough space for the cold air to circulate and so you can see what's in back. Keep the frequently used items in front so you can grab them easily when you open the door. If you have kids who regularly hold the door open while looking for snacks, stock their favourites near eye level so there's no wasting energy. Always store uncooked meat and fish on the bottom shelf to prevent cross-contamination, and you won't waste food by throwing things out.
Cook the books
Preparing meals at home is almost always less expensive than restaurant or take-out meals, and your refrigerator is the main stockroom for your ingredients.
With a little bit of prep work, you can cook meals for a whole week all at once—a month even, if you cook for a smaller crowd, or cook larger portions. Soups, casseroles and large roasts are ideal for week-long meals in one cooking session. Get the whole family involved, and the time-and money-saving afternoon of cooking and storing meals can even be fun. Just be sure to let your fresh cooked spaghetti sauce or brisket cool almost to room temperature before you store it. Putting hot things into the fridge or freezer brings down the overall temperature, requiring it to work harder again to cool everything.
Whether you cook once a month or every day, quality storage containers make a big difference, so you don't end up wasting food. Anything you can vacuum seal will help food last longer. And labelling with meal names and dates will save time and energy every time you open the door.
When everyone else is looking for areas to cut costs, starting in your own kitchen can save both time and money.