How to Stop Wasting Food and Save Money
Learn how to save money on groceries and how to reduce food waste.
The average American wastes up to $360 per household each month, according to a recent survey of 1,000 Americans by Morton Salt.
Joel Gamoran, a food waste crusader and author of the book “Cooking Scrappy,” identifies food waste as a hot button issue: “Food waste is a crucial issue because of the negative impact it has on our environment, wallets, and recipes. People are literally throwing away money and flavor all while contributing to global warming.” Here are a few tips on how to reduce food waste.
MAKE LEFTOVER FUN
Turning leftovers into a cooking challenge, or even a family vote on what they should become (soup, quesadillas, noodle casserole), adds an element of excitement. This is more compelling than just reheating the same old meal.
CHECK EXPIRATION DATES BEFORE BUYING SOMETHING
This may seem like a no-brainer, but often you’ll find varying expiration dates on identical products. Stores use expiration dates to indicate freshness, moving the newer products to the back of the shelf with the older ones within grabbing distance.
If you want the ultimate in freshness, check the products behind what’s directly in front of you—you may find fresher ones hidden there.
BLEND IT UP
Blending up a nutrient-packed smoothie can be a delicious way to reduce food waste.
While the stems, ends and peels of produce may not be appetizing in their whole form, adding them to a smoothie is a way to reap their many benefits.
The stems of greens like kale and chard are packed with fiber and nutrients, making them a great addition to smoothies. The tops of beets, strawberries and carrots also make great add-ins.
Other items that would otherwise be discarded can also be thrown into a nutritious blend, including fruit and vegetable peels, wilted herbs, overripe bananas and chopped broccoli stalks.
FREEZE EVERYTHING (almost)
A freezer is your best friend when it comes to reducing food waste. If something is getting close to its expiration date and it’s freezable (especially meats, fruits and certain vegetables), put them into a freezer bag and toss them into the freezer.
Use freezer bags for freezing, and containers that are tailored to whatever you are storing. There are even special wrappers for cheese.
You can freeze berries and other fruits to use in smoothies or baked goods, and you can chop and freeze vegetables to use in soups or stews. You can even chop up leftover herbs and freeze them in ice cube trays. And many meals can be frozen after they’ve been cooked, especially leftover soups, chilis, stews, casseroles, or slow-cooked meats.
AVOID IMPULSE BUYS
Buying a bag of chips or a container of cookies may seem harmless enough, but if that replaces a meal or two that you otherwise have planned, it can start a cycle of food going bad and ending up in the can. One way to avoid impulse buys is to shop on a full stomach.
PLAN YOUR MEALS
Planning menus helps in so many ways. It helps to create an efficient grocery list, so you can choose items that can be used in more than one recipe. Including plans for leftovers and what new meals they will become is also a good idea. If there is a plan for everything, it’s more likely to be consumed.
EXERCISE PORTION CONTROL
If your meal plan for one looks more like something for a family of five, you might end up throwing quite a lot of uneaten food away. Try to buy and cook only what you need, and if you are making extra that it’s something that can be frozen or put away for a later date.