Saving Money and Saving Food

Do you throw away food? Does produce go bad before you get a chance to eat it? Are you getting rid of leftovers you just didn’t get around to heating up? Are you comfortable with the amount of food you waste? Is your grocery budget aligned with your actual spending?

I am sad to admit that I can’t answer these questions the way I’d like to… I waste more food than I am comfortable with. Did you know that the average American family throws away about 25 percent of its grocery shopping dollars — as much as $2,000 a year.

The first step to fixing this problem is to realize why you’re throwing food away. Some common reasons are:

Forgotten Leftovers- It is easy to forget about the cooked food you already have and eat that up first when you’re hunting for a snack or quick meal.

Bad produce- Can you really get through a giant bag of spinach in a week? Did your bananas turn brown faster than you realized? I often forget about zucchini or cucumber hidden in a vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.

Picky Eaters- I think its pretty common for a parent to make a new meal, and have the family reject it, wasting the food. Sad, but true!

Forgot to freeze- When I leave town I always intend to freeze what I didn’t use up, but don’t always get to that on my pre vacation checklist.

So, What can you do about these dilemmas? How can your family stop, or reduce the amount of food you waste? You need to get organized and make a plan! Start by taking everything out of your refrigerator and washing it out to get a clean. Take an inventory of what you already have, and decide if you’ll really use that food by its expiration date. Be honest with yourself, and get rid of what doesn’t make the list! Put everything else back in, sorted perhaps in smaller plastic bins to group like items. Now use this process to clear out your pantry and freezer. This process could take a bit of time, prepare yourself!!

Now, make a meal plan for the next week (or two weeks at a time!) based on what you have in stock and what you think your family will really eat. Try not to pick recipes with a bunch of unusual ingredients that will take up space and money, and go bad before you use the rest of that ingredient.

Going on for the future, try to pay attention to what and how much your family actually eats. Stop buying what they don’t like and what you find yourself throwing out again and again. It seems obvious, but people typically purchase the same foods again and again, so make a conscious point to break the habit if your family is not eating it. If you know your family won’t eat leftovers, then make less of the meal to begin with! Also, try using nice, clear tupperware and storing leftovers in portion sized meals that are easy to reheat without dirtying more dishes. Revisit your food inventory often, make it a regular part of your life to go over what you have and reassess what you need.

Good luck to you and I as we try to waste less food and make our dollars go farther at the grocery store!


    Stefanie Hathaway
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2016
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