According to the United Nations Environment Programme, Americans waste 30-40 % of the food supply which is more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. Wow, that’s a lot of food thrown in the trash!
Just think what that calculates to in dollars that we are throwing away every month. Let’s see if we can make some changes and keep that money in our pocket! If we can do that, it’s like getting a huge raise!!
1. Make a weekly menu, and stick to it. Plan for 4 or 5 complete meals and leftovers for the other days. If your family doesn’t like leftovers, plan 7 meals.
2. Make a list of all the ingredients. Try to have meals that use some of the same ingredients. For example, you can buy an extra large can of tomato sauce and use it in both chili and spaghetti so there’s no waste. Never leave extra sauce in the can in the refrigerator! Put the leftover in a small dish, freeze it, then put it in a freezer bag.
3. Avoid using only part of something (onions, peppers, parsley, etc.) because you’ll put it in the fridge and forget about it. Instead, chop all of the vegetables and freeze what you don’t use.
4. If your family doesn’t like leftovers, make smaller portions, enough for one night, and make another dish to freeze for another night.
5. Clean out your refrigerator on Saturday mornings, and you’ll find any stowaways hiding. Saturdays are a great day to have a buffet, and let the family have a sampling of the week’s leftovers. What doesn’t get eaten, freeze. Make sure to label and date it.
6. Watch out for things in bags, they can go bad very fast. Lettuce bought in the plastic containers will only last a short time, so only buy what you know you’ll use in a week.
7. Try to keep your fridge orderly. Put open things closest to the front so you can see them. Write the date on things once you open them. For example, milk, shredded cheese, sour cream, yogurt, salad dressings, eggs, etc.
8. Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale if you’re not going to use them right away. If it’s a great deal, work it into the weekly menu.
9. Produce is the area where I’m guilty of the most waste. I get excited about all the healthy vegetables I can make, and once I’m home I put them away thinking I‘ll get around to it later, and later never comes.
10. Put away food immediately after serving your family. How many times have you nibbled on that last little piece of meat after you’d finished eating because it didn’t seem worth dirty-ing a dish to save it for later. I keep a freezer bag where I toss those tiny little leftover pieces of chicken, sausage, ground turkey or beef which are perfect to go in soups, casseroles, scrambled eggs, etc. You’d be surprised how fast the bag fills up, and you have enough to make a whole meal. I honestly haven’t found much that I can’t freeze.
The fact is that most of us don’t intentionally plan to throw food away. We forget about it because it’s gotten pushed to the back of the fridge, or we’re not in the mood for it anymore.
We would be amazed how much money we could save every month if we were more thoughtful about our meal planning. Try it out for a month, and see what a difference it will make in your food budget. Besides saving you money, you’ll have a plan, and you won’t have to hear those dreaded words, “What’s for dinner?”
I’d love to hear about any money saving tips you use, so we can all cut down on waste.