Everyone would like to save money on food if it means they can still get the same quality for a better price. One are where most people can save on their food bill is to reduce the amount of food they waste. Americans through out as much as 40% of their food according to a recent study.
Almost all of us have experienced some form of food waste in our homes. Sometimes it’s food that goes bad before we get around to eating it, and sometimes it’s leftovers that spoil because we don’t actually want to eat it. However, everyone can take measures to prevent or reduce food waste.
Organize Your Refrigerator
One of the easiest methods is to organize your refrigerator. Having it packed with food and leftovers means that you’re less likely to know what’s in there. How often had you had perfectly good food spoil because you didn’t see it inside the fridge? Throw out old food, and when you buy new groceries, store them toward the back of the fridge, keeping the food that’s more likely to spoil up front.
Buy Bulk in Moderation
While buying bulk can be a great way to save money, it’s important that you never buy in bulk unless you either know you’re going to use the food or if it’s something that won’t spoil such as pasta or rice. Have you ever bought a gigantic tub of yogurt because it was a bulk sale, only to have it expire before you eat it? When buying bulk, make sure that you only buy items you’ll use.
Make a List
It’s important to make a list of what you already own and what you need to buy. You don’t want to go buy a bunch of food items you already have, do you? Making a list of what you have will remind you not only of items you don’t need to buy, but items that you need to use before they expire. For example, there’s no point in buying a jar of mayonnaise if you already have a half-finished jar in the fridge.
Use Overripe Produce
How many times have you thrown out overripe fruits or vegetables? It’s such a waste of money, especially when you can use those items, but usually not how you had first planned. You can make smoothies, pies, or other desserts with fruit that’s a little too ripe. With vegetables, you can make stew or sauces. While you won’t be able to reuse every type of overripe fruit or vegetable, trying to reuse them in a different dish is much better than letting them go into the trash.
Serve Smaller Portions
A lot of people are used to receiving large portions since restaurant portions keep getting larger and larger. But large portions mean that some people might not finish the entire meal and end up throwing away the leftovers. When you’re at home serve smaller portions and go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. This way you’ll waste less food and save more for additional meals, and it is also a great way to keep the weight off.
Did you make a casserole that’s too big for you to eat? Maybe you have way too much cookie dough. Or maybe you bought too much fruit and don’t want it to go bad. Well, your best option is to freeze these items! Most foods can be frozen and stored until you’re ready to use it at a later date. Sometimes the best way to reduce waste is to freeze food. So if you’re tired of eating that same dish day after day, freeze some for one of those days when you have no other food options.
Know Label Dates
A lot of us are guilty of immediately throwing out food when we see it’s nearing its “use by” or “sell by” date. However, the “sell by date” is the last date a retailer is recommended to sell the product while the “use by” date is the end of the high quality of the item. Most, but not all, foods are okay to consume up to a week after these dates. So if you have a jar of pasta sauce that’s passed it’s “use by” date by a day, make sure you use that immediately instead of discarding it.
How many times have you gone out to eat only to receive your meal and realize that you’re never going to eat it all? Sometimes, you’re out somewhere where it’s inappropriate to take leftovers home, so you end up leaving more than half the meal on your plate. If you’re out with someone, share your meal – as long as you’re comfortable with them, that is.
Eat What You Have Before Buying More
Do you have a lot of food stored in your freezer or refrigerator? Do you have a couple of random ingredients in your fridge or cupboards and nothing else? Well, you have all that food for a reason. You bought it, so why not eat it? If you go to the store, you’re going to end up buying new food and letting what’s already in your fridge or cupboards go bad.
Don’t Shop Hungry
This should be one of the most obvious facts for anyone who routinely grocery shops. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to buy food because it looks good, not because you actually need it. Unfortunately, fresh produce is usually the first thing you see when you enter a supermarket, so it’s the first thing you grab. Eat before shopping to cut down on food that would otherwise go to waste.
(Photo courtesy of jbloom)