How many times have you gone through your refrigerator or kitchen pantry just to throw away loads of spoiled food? When you initially bought it you were absolutely sure you would use it to cook or bake during the week. However, things don’t always seem to go as planned and so you toss your hard-earned money and groceries into the garbage.
How you shop and think about food can drastically impact how much you waste. You can spend less and eat more just by following a few simple rules. Read below for 7 easy tips on how to decrease food waste and your grocery bill.
Before you even leave the house, make a grocery list and stick to it. This will eliminate impulse buying that you will inevitably forget about halfway through the week. Consider purchasing ingredients that can be used for more than one meal as well.
Although fresh vegetables and fruit are tempting, they spoil very quickly. Unless you cook each day or in advance, you’ll end up throwing away a lot of your fresh foods. Choosing to go the frozen route will allow you more flexibility in your meal prep as well as the opportunity to prolong your food’s “shelf” life in your freezer.
The terms “use-by,” “sell-by,” and “expiration” dates are not synonyms. They all mean something different. They are often used to indicate freshness or display dates for the self-service case rather than when the food will spoil. Make sure you aren’t throwing away perfectly good food because you misread these labels.
Different vegetables and fruits ripen quicker than others. Be mindful of where you store specific foods so they will still be fresh when you need them. It’s also a good idea to keep your food where you can see it so you don’t forget to use it during the week. You don’t want to buy something you already have but couldn’t locate.
Before you head to the grocery store, take inventory of what’s already in your kitchen. Plan out the next couple of days using only the food you already have before venturing out to purchase more. You’ll be surprised how much this decreases your grocery bill each month.
Making sure your fridge and pantry are clean will do wonders for any food waste issues you may encounter. Food is not unlike your left sock in that it disappears and reappears without notice. Keeping your pantry and refrigerator organized will help you keep track of the food you have. Cleaning both will also eliminate the presence of mold that could affect other fresh foods.
Composting recycles your food along with other organic materials to be used as nutrient-rich soil for gardens rather than sending them to the landfill. Although you wouldn’t want to eat the food being used for compost, you certainly won’t be wasting it.
If you have canned goods or other non-perishable items that you don’t plan to use, donate them to family members or local food banks in your area. Check with your local community center about certain restrictions before collecting items to donate.
Former senior scientist at the National Resource Defense Council, Dana Gunders says in her latest book, “Consumers waste more food, collectively than restaurants or grocery stores,” Gunders said. “And the average household of four spends about $1,800 on food they never eat.”
Buying only the food you need will not only cut down on the amount of waste, but it will severely impact your grocery budget. Being able to promote two positive outcomes just takes a little extra effort and consideration.