After the holidays, specifically Thanksgiving and Christmas, my parents and my girlfriend’s parents send us home with a car full of leftovers. Our fridge at home will be packed tight meaning that we usually only eat what is out front (what we can see). In past years, we eventually clear some shelf space, only to find some mystery meat covered in fuzz. More recently, we tend to throw out food before it gets to the “fuzzy stage”. But this got me to thinking about how much food we really to waste. After all, it’s not just during the holidays that we throw out perfectly good food.
How Much Food is Wasted?
According to Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans tend to throw out 40% of our food supply. Broken down, a typical family of four wastes close to $2,000 per year on uneaten food. This is a lot of food! And it doesn’t just take into account food bought at the grocery store. It includes food left uneaten when we dine out as well as food left out in the fields to rot. Of course, the majority of the food is wasted during the holidays. To save food and our wallet, here are some tips to help lessen the amount of food we waste.
Share a Plate When Eating Out
We all know the portion sizes at most restaurants could feed a small army. If you don’t plan to or aren’t interested in taking any leftovers home, share a plate to reduce the chances of leaving food on the table.
Plan Out Meals
When you have a plan of what you are going to make during the week, you are less likely to buy a bunch of items that are unrelated. When you buy some fresh green beans but then pick up a pizza, there is a good chance the beans are going to be forgotten about unless you plan on using them in a meal within a few days.
Shop with a List
Related to planning out meals is to shop with a list. When you shop without a list, you run the risk of just buying a bunch of items that aren’t going to be used to make a meal. Next thing you know, you’ll have some unidentified fruit or vegetable sitting in your fridge. It may make for a great game of “Guess What This Is”, but it hurts your wallet in the process.
Keep a Picture in Your Fridge
I know this sounds crazy already. But if you put a picture in the back of your fridge, you will know when your fridge is reaching the point where you are going to have to start throwing out food. If you can’t see the picture, the alarm in your brain should start to sound. That is your cue you need to eat what is in there before it’s too late.
Don’t Live and Die by the Sell-by Date
Just because an item passes its sell-by date doesn’t mean that it is a bio-hazard. It just means that is when the item is its freshest. Personally, I will test out a product before throwing it away. Take milk for example. If it is approaching the sell-by date, I’ll take a sniff to see how it smells. If it smells fine, bottoms up! If not, it goes down the drain. I’ve easily had a glass of milk a few dates after it expired with no issues to report. Just use common sense.
Overall, we waste a lot of money on food that we never eat. Save your fridge, pantry and your wallet by becoming more conscious of what you are buying and what you currently have stock of. The money you save won’t allow you to quit your job tomorrow, but over time, can have a significant impact on your overall finances.