I mention occasionally that bringing home catering leftovers is a big way for me to save money. My nickname with my catering company is ‘zero waste’. I don’t like to see food thrown away in general and I capitalize on every event as a chance to eat for free. I love the amount of money I have saved over the months. My grocery budget last month was $60. My spending on food is way down. I also hate cooking, so having food that’s already prepared but not stuffed with weird preservatives is a huge perk for me!
I thought today I would share some photos of the types of things I bring home and eat each week. I always take as much as I can carry as my roommates and boyfriend also eat this food. #providing #literallybringinghomethebacon
Here’s my haul from last Saturday night:
I carry all this food in one grocery bag.
The loot for this week, left to right:
-two bags of mixed greens -one bag of rolls
-one bag of asparagus cooked in oil -one stick of butter
-two containers of mashed potatoes -two containers salmon with pesto sauce
-one container bacon wrapped chicken -two containers red grapes
-one container asiago cheese -one container beef cooked with Mexican flavoring
-one container cooked brussels sprouts
As you can see, I try and go for an even spread of veggies, fruits and proteins. I didn’t keep all this food. I gave one bag of greens, the bag of rolls, the asiago cheese, the butter and one container of grapes to my boyfriend. We already have so much butter at my house (from previous events) and none of my roomies are big white carb eaters, so the rolls would have gone uneaten here.
Salmon with pesto!
I will live off of these items, plus things like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, peanut butter and soup, for the next week. I consider catering a blessing on three levels: 1) It literally pays me in dollaz. 2) It literally pays me in food. 3) It pays me in food I would NEVER buy for myself.
I would never buy salmon at the grocery store or order it at a restaurant. At restaurants it’s too expensive and to bring home salmon would mean I’d have to cook it- hell no. I might buy asparagus but I always just roast it in the oven with some salt and pepper. Spinach and mesclun greens get pricey real quick at the grocery store and having a gallon size bag of free greens means salads and smoothies for a week. All that equals dollars saved.
Bringing home a variety of foods (fruits, carbs, proteins and veggies) also means a balanced diet. While I am into healthy eating much more so than the average American, I too fall prey to buying the same foods over and over again. I can wander pretty much the same route at the grocery store and pick out my yogurt, tuna, soup and peanut butter with my eyes closed. Going to these events with food other people have picked out means that my diet varies at least a little week to week.
Mashed potatoes for days!
These leftovers also save me time. Most of the food is already cooked and all I have to do is zap it in the microwave. I dislike cooking and only make myself basic meals like stir-frys and homemade pizza. Having cooked salmon, prepared mashed potatoes and sautéed asparagus just waiting for me in my fridge means I can spend more time doing other things. Mostly that’s watching ‘Reign’ on Netflix right now, but still! Time you enjoyed wasting isn’t time wasted, amirite? I just pick and choose from my refrigerator buffet, pop it in the microwave and presto! Instant meal.
While I do dream of leaving the food service business permanently sooner rather than later, I will probably cater for at least a few months after I pay off all my debt. I make a good hourly wage and I save money on food. My hope is all earnings from this job will be a great way to buff up my savings after I’m debt free. Right now I feel guilty for not saving or investing more, but I firmly believe that paying off debt has to be my priority and so it is for now.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.