Did you know that the average family of four throws away between $1,350 to $2,275 worth of food every single year? That’s one large chunk of change. That’s money that could be used to pay down debt, fund a retirement account, or take a family vacation.
Worse yet, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 96% of the food we discard ends up in landfills where it breaks down to produce methane, an environmental gas that contributes to climate change.
So what can you do to prevent your hard earned cash from being thrown away in the form of wasted food?
Check your refrigerator
Before you go grocery shopping make a point to first stop and check your fridge and pantry. This prevents you from purchasing items that you already have but that might be in danger of going to waste.
Planning your meals ahead of time is a great money saving strategy. First, it allows you to save money by planning meals around things that are on sale for the week. Second, it ensures that you’ll only purchase exactly what you need, reducing the likelihood of waste.
Don’t fall into the bulk purchase trap
It’s often tempting to buy larger sized products to save more money, but this may be counter-productive if the extra quantity you purchase goes to waste. Purchasing that extra large carton of yogurt does you no good if half of it gets thrown away.
Monitor your trash
Monitoring trash can provide you with clues on how to alter you shopping behavior. If you find yourself, for instance, constantly throwing away brown bananas you’ll know to purchase fewer when you go shopping.
Use the FIFO system
Use the first in – first out system to cut down on food waste. When you get home from the grocery store place the new items you purchased toward the back of the fridge or cupboard while rotating older items toward the front.
Learn how to best store your food
Did you know that citrus juice can keep pears and apples from going brown, or that salad greens will keep longer if you store them in the fridge in an airtight container with a damp paper towel? Use websites like makedirtnotwaste.org to discover how to store all types of produce more effectively.
Use your left-overs
Put your left-overs to work. Invest in a good lunch bag/box system to enjoy great left-overs at work while your colleagues shell out money for cafeteria food. Almost any leftover meat can be diced or shredded and used in an omelet for a second act. Meat leftovers combined with salad greens create quick meals. Aging vegetables can be used to create soups. Take advantage of websites like AllRecipes.com. Type in any ingredients you have on hand and AllRecipes.com will provide you with a list of recipes you can use.
Above all, remember that wasted food is wasted money.
BMWK, what do you do to keep food from going to waste?
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