Friday, August 7, 2009

Avoid Wasting Food & Save Dollars

Are you on a budget and do you waste food?

I came across a blog site yesterday, one that I want to draw your attention to because
Wasted Food is the elephant in the room when people talk about struggling to eat well for less during these challenging economic times.

Consider honestly:
  • Do you store leftovers, forget they're in the fridge, and then end up throwing them out?
  • Do you forget produce in your crisper and subsequently trash it because it's moldy, rotten, shriveled?
  • Do you end up tossing soured milk, moldy yogurt, smelly deli-meats, because their use-by dates have expired?
  • Do you freeze food and forget it's there until it's unidentifiable & inedible due to freezer burn?
  • Do you put too much food on your plate at meal times and end up tossing out what you can't eat?
  • When you eat out, do you leave food on your plate? Or do you take home a doggy bag of leftovers, forget you put it in the fridge, then eventually toss it out?
You can probably think up another half-dozen scenarios in which you've wasted food, not intentionally, of course, because chances are you wouldn't intentionally waste anything if it had a one dollar, five dollar, ten dollar, fifty-dollar note attached to it.

But that's the reality of wasting food -- every time you toss out those rotten veggies, that half tub of moldy yogurt and that soured milk, the stinky deli-meat, you're tossing away a percentage of whatever you paid to purchase it.

And then, are you concerned about:
  • your recession-hit income
  • the rising price of groceries
  • how much it's costing to feed just you, or you and a partner, or you and your family?
If you answered yes to the above, chances are you're on a grocery budget. If you're also aware that you waste food, put simply, stop throwing the money you budget for groceries into the trash.

But how, you ask. How can you avoid wasting food?

Seriously, if we were in a depression, like the great depression of the 30's, when jobs, money and food were scare for many, then you'd naturally not waste. It's as easy as that.

Despite the current economy, citizens of developed countries still live with abundance, and abundance is a "catch 22" because it gives a false sense of there always being enough.

Okay, so let's say you do have enough, enough money to buy basic groceries, and enough groceries available to you so that there's choice. Regardless of having enough, you're still feeling the need to reduce your expenditure at the grocery store, plus you're aware that one of the ways you can do that is by reducing your waste at home. If this is you, try these simple tricks:
  1. Buy only what you need. I can't stress this enough! It's tempting to buy more, but if you don't need it, won't eat it, then chances are you'll toss it out.
  2. Clean you fridge weekly. If your fridge is uncluttered, you'll easily be able to see the fresh groceries you add each week.
  3. Put a list on the outside of your fridge detailing what's on the inside. As you consume what's in your fridge, cross it off the list. This will help you track your perishables, food that generally needs to be consumed within a week of being purchased.
  4. Do the same regarding the contents of your freezer.
  5. Don't cook too much, i.e. don't cook for the masses if there are just two of you.
  6. Don't overload your plate at mealtimes. Serve yourself just enough, and then eat what's on your plate.
  7. If you do have leftovers (either you've cooked too much food or you put too much on your plate), be disciplined about cooking up leftovers with fresher ingredients the following day.
  8. Leftovers can also be feed to the family pets (instead of dry or tinned food), or you could compost your degradable leftovers -- if you have a composting bin and a garden.
"Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption." This quote comes from the NYTs article: One Country's Table Scraps another Country's Meal. It's worth reading.

So if you're on a budget, and you're aware you waste food, try the 8 tips above. A few simple changes could save you a surprising amount of money.

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