Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mimi's Savings Secrets...Run your kitchen like a restaurant and save!

I decided long ago, having spent some of my study years in commercial kitchens, that in order to save money, I have to run my kitchen and pantry the way the restaurants do; by minimising waste, controlling portions, being creative with leftovers and being financially accountable for any waste. In the restaurant and catering industry, portions are carefully measured and controlled and all waste must be accounted for to work within the confines of a budget - just like home!

Here are my strategies:

1. Take advantage of seasonal produce. It's cheaper, better for you and you can take advantage of bargains. Menu plan accordingly.

2. Access resources to utilise leftovers. Even better, LOOK at what the family is leaving on their plate or what excess you are cooking and adjust serving sizes to suit. Unless of course you are deliberately cooking a double batch for future use.

3. Optimise shelf life of food with correct storage principles immediately upon getting produce and pantry goods home. Allow sufficient time to do this properly. It takes me about an hour and a half to unpack my groceries, but everything is stored in airtight containers or other appropriate plastic or glassware. This also means I can buy generic brands, and nobody notices and complains as they're none the wiser!

4. Rotate food appropriately. This means doing a mini stocktake of refrigerator contents daily and pantry contents monthly, in order to use food before it spoils and has to be thrown away. This takes about 30 seconds to do in the case of the fridge and about 15-30 minutes for the pantry, so less than an hour a month. This has the added bonus of not ending up with five packets of thyme, and three tins of curry powder because you are constantly aware of what you have, and what needs replacing.

5. Before throwing any food away, I line everything up on the bench and do a mini cost calculation of what I'm actually throwing away financially. This is a great awareness tool in itself.

I calculate that I can save between $100 and $400 a month employing these strategies. You can too!


  1. Very good strategy...will certainly be employing these ideas!
    xo, Marybeth

    1. These little things really do make a difference Marybeth. Thanks for the lovely comment...Mimi xxx

  2. Hi Mimi;
    What a good and practical post today! I never thought to look on the uneaten food on the plates and cutting down on these. Very nice post, thanks. Hugs, Doreen

    1. It's such an easy thing to do, and so obvious that when I started doing it I couldn't believe what impact it had on the way I was cooking, serving, and of course shopping! I have been able to trim some grocery items by half, and eliminate others altogether. And I'm not talking about the kids leaving broccoli on the plate, so not buying broccoli. I mean seeing that the same muesli bar keeps coming home in the school lunch box, so maybe eliminate that and ask what they would prefer that's healthy. It turned out a bunch of grapes or a tub of yoghurt was the solution, and no less healthful. And no waste! Mimi xxx

  3. This is great advice Mimi. Especially calculating the cost of waste.

    I hate throwing food away, even though the chickens enjoy it, so technically its not wastage lol.

    I find that there is too much waste in my house. It is hard to know how hungry everyone is when dishing the food up. I do ask before hand but sometimes still get it wrong. So I have been experimenting with putting the food on the table and letting everyone dish themselves up the amount they would eat. It works better and there is less waste, but it is a little bit more trouble though.

    Every now and then I hit the jackpot and cook something really nice that gets all gobbled up. This happened last night when I tried a new recipe of meatballs and spaghetti. I used a recipe from a Mediterranean cookbook I have here. There was not one bit was left on the plates and they commented on how nice it was. Yay! I have been dabbling with this type of cooking as it is so much healthier than our western diet. If they are going to eat it I will cook it lol!


  4. Love these tips. I find that I do well at checking my supplies for about a couple of weeks, and then life gets in the way and I do less cooking, which leads to less stock checking and things get spoiled. I've gotta figure out a more consistent routine! ~M.


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx