Do you have enough money to throw it away? It’s what many people do, because a lot of the food they buy ends in the trash.
So Much Waste!
In the US each and every household annually spends between $1,350 to $2,275 on food they never eat. If we take the average of these two numbers, that’s $1,812.50 per year or $9,062.50 in five years. That’s the price of a brand new car or a super luxury Caribbean cruise.
Nobody, really nobody I know would say, “uh, I think it’s quite ok that I waste this much money,” yet people do. And it’s so easy to stop that. The main reasons it happens are lack of planning, preparing too much and impulse buying. Each and every one of these can be taken care of with ease:
1. Use A Meal Plan
Sit down on Sundays and plan ahead what you’ll cook the next week. Take stock of what’s still in cupboards, freezer and fridge and what ingredients you have to buy to turn that into meals.
2. Make A List
Easily combined with #1: never go shopping without a list. Supermarkets are practically designed to get us to do impulse buying and, guess what, those impulse buys are the ones that most often end up in the trash.
Tons of foods, like bread, soup, casseroles and stews, can be frozen. In case of bread, buy a whole loaf, but put half of it into the freezer, where it’ll stay good for a long time. For the casseroles and such use labels to make sure you know when exactly you put them in there.
4. Gauge Your Usage
Yes, milk is cheaper when bought by the gallon, but what if you don’t drink it? If you continually find yourself throwing away food like milk, eggs, bananas etc., write down how much of them you really drink / eat per week, then adjust the amount you buy to your real needs, even if the smaller amount on the surface looks more expensive.
5. Seniors To The Front
Put foods you just bought into the back of the fridge / board and put older stuff up front. That way you’ll notice what has to go first. I have one friend who unwittingly ran a cheese experiment in her fridge – the pack was three years old!
6. Take Best Before Only As Hint
Best before dates only show for how long food at least should be good. Trust your eyes, nose and tongue to find out if a food really has turned bad. Less than about a century ago people did nothing but.
7. Serve Smaller Amounts
Who likes to touch food that already was one someone else’s half-eaten plate? Give everyone smaller portions with the understanding that it’s always possible to get another helping. Then whatever isn’t eaten can be warmed up the next day or frozen as per #3.
8. If There’s Still Stuff, Donate It!
About 1 billion people on our little blue planet suffer from malnutrition. Although we think they are all located in the third world, some are right next door, here in our cozy, “civilized” countries. So before you throw away those three boxes of high fiber cereal that sounded oh-so-healthy when you bought them, get in touch with a local place running a food donation program (food banks, churches, social services etc.) and ask if they’d need them.
Picture courtesy of Steven Depolo.