Cleaning out my closet: saving food and money

What you may or may not know about me already: I like to organize. Every now and then I randomly take on a cupboard in the home. This time, I took a closer look at the kitchen. I checked all the food supplies and, more importantly, their expiration dates. What I found didn't make me happy at all. 

A lot of products were expired. Half eaten, and then forgotten. Bought for some kind of cake or muffin recipe, and then never used. In the refrigerator it was more of the same story. A jar of olives that was only half used. A pot of pesto or garlic sauce that was left alone at the back. Things kept popping up. Out of sight, out of mind. Shame on us for wasting this food, was all I could think. 

I took a closer look at everything that was past the expiration date. Some of the things were not even opened yet, but they expired a year ago. However, if the expiration date is mentioned as "best before" or "best if used by (or before)" or in Dutch "tenminste houdbaar tot", this means that the food càn be eaten after the date without you getting poisened. I actually used a pack of grinded hazelnuts that expired more than a year ago: it didn't kill me, and I didn't got sick. Of course, you don't want to try this with things that can actually give you food poisoning like meat, fish, milk, eggs and so on. For me, anything that was opened and expired, I tossed. The things that were dry foods and were still closed, I kept. I also found a never opened pack of chlorella powder that was fine according to the date, but the smell that came of the pack was terrible and definitely not okay. So I decided not to risk it. 

So sad to have wasted this...
With the discovery that so many items were actually wasted in our house, we made a promise to each other and ourselves to stay more on top of things from now on. I am going to try and think more creatively in terms of what I can use from leftovers. We already eat leftovers from dinner for lunch, but that is more like an intentional leftover: we cook double amounts with the intention of using it for lunch. That's not really the creative leftover spirit I'm aiming at! 

At the same time, we found out that buying everything organic is being heavy on our budget. We did have other high expenses for the past months, but we do have to be more careful on what we buy for eating too. We managed to put down our food budget (that initially climbed from 50 € a week when we didn't shop organic, to 100 and sometimes more a week when we started eating completely organic) to now something around 80 € a week. Not bad! But we will have to keep watching ourselves. What helped a lot was changing the habit of having to eat meat or fish every day. That's really not necessary to stay healthy, so we limited meat to about three times a week, and one or two fish days. The other days are vegetarian. Organic meat is very expensive, but we are so happy with our choice to invest in this quality meat (and yes, we really notice the difference in taste and structure). We now eat better and healthier meat, but less times a week, and that makes up for the bigger price. 

Trying to lower our food costs and our food waste at the same time is actually a great opportunity. We are forced to be creative. I plan to first take a look at what we have lying around already, before making a shopping list from scratch for the week. Using up what you have forgotten about in the back of your cupboards is a very green way of saving money! You should try it too sometime :-) 

For instance, after the hard cleanup work, I treated myself with a delicious tea made from a very sad looking wrinkled lemon that no one touched anymore. Added the lemon juice to hot water, put in a spoon of honey et voila! I also made two great leftover lunches and a dessert this week, but you can read about them in my next post! 


  1. Ik ben ook zo'n organizer type hahaha, dus ik ben benieuwd welke tips je gaat delen in je volgende post. We zitten hier echt te vaak met leftovers!

  2. Green cleaning products work just as well as the old fashioned standard chemical products, but have less impact on the environment and contain safer ingredients.


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