That’s a heck of a lot of money out the window. To say nothing of the impact on planet.
You and I may not be able to control the waste all around us, but we certainly can avoid it in our own home. Here are a few strategies to help:
To begin with, don’t buy any perishables that you don’t have a plan for. That way you have a designated use for food so that it is not sitting uneaten until it is ready for the garbage pail.
Plan your weekly menus by choosing recipes that will use up any perishables within the same week that you purchase them, either in one single meal, or later in the same week with another recipe that uses that same perishable ingredient.
Use What You Have Before Buying More
Before hitting the grocery store, check your fridge and cupboards to see what you already have on hand. Find a recipe to use up those perishables before adding to your supply.
This is a time saver, too, so it's a good practice to make a habit.
Freeze Leftovers and Other Foods You Can't Use
Freezing leftovers is an easy way to have a quick meal available at some future date. I highly recommend it as a major money- and sanity-saver in my blog post on the topic here.
And if you can't use, say, that zucchini you bought or harvested before it spoils, then plan to puree it and freeze it. You can do that with many other products as well, such as pumpkin or squash, or tomatoes from your garden. Or you can simply freeze things like fruit whole (e.g. lemons and bananas) to use later.
You can also take any canned product leftovers that you have no plans for and put them in a freezer bag, label and date it, and freeze it for later use.
By following these simple suggestions you won’t end up with things like rotten fruit or vegetables in your produce drawers, or half-used cans of tomato products that get lost at the back of the refrigerator and develop mold because you forget you have them.
Related Articles: 5 Basic Money Saving Steps to Take Before You Go to the Grocery Store
15 No-Effort Ways to Save Big at the Grocery Store
Ignore Internet-Based Myths That Lead to Waste and Hysteria About Food
Just the other day I encountered a type of waste in my household that I had never really thought about before. It involved onions, of all things.
Now, I rarely use a recipe that calls for such things as half an onion. Even if it does, I just use the whole onion.
But other members of my household will often peel and use only half an onion for their breakfast eggs and leave the unpeeled half for later use.
To my astonishment, I recently witnessed my husband throwing out the unused half after he had cut what he needed.
When I asked him about it, he told me that he had to throw it out because he’d just read that cut onion can be deadly if not eaten right away.
I asked him where he had heard that, but of course I was pretty sure I knew even before he answered – rather sheepishly, I might add.
It was the internet – Facebook, to be precise. As a teacher, I know all too well the tendency to believe everything we see or read on the World Wide Web. After all, we all know that when something’s on the internet, it must be true, right?
Of course, the truth is that the internet is undoubtedly a fabulous tool for communication and gathering knowledge, but there is also plenty of nonsense out there.
I see articles all the time on the internet with hysteria-inducing titles such as: 10 Foods You Didn’t Know Could Kill You, or 5 Foods That You Should Never Feed Your Family, or similar drivel. And even highly intelligent people like my husband can fall for the hype.
This one with the onion was definitely one such case. It is absolute myth.
In reality, as any student of microbiology can tell you, rather than spoiling fast, onions actually have properties that limit bacterial growth. So, leaving one out on your counter for a couple of days will most definitely not pose a health hazard.
And in our case, it would also cut down on some waste to leave it there, since the next cook –usually me – would see the cut onion and use it first before cutting into a fresh one.
However modest those savings would be, there is simply no point in putting food in the garbage that does not need to be there.
Don't Let Expiration Dates Rule Your Life
The "toxic onion" is not an isolated case at all. Myths surrounding food abound.
Another dominant one is the idea that the food expiration date on most packages is cast in stone, and exceeding it will lead to food poisoning or a similar outcome.
Few people realize that the expiration date on food is actually merely a guideline for stores. It most definitely does not mean that the food is unsafe to eat. Almost any dry or canned product is safe well past the time stamped on the package or container.
There is simply no reason to thrown out food based on an arbitrary date.
One way to avoid this scenario altogether is to place newer grocery purchases at the back of the shelf, and move the older ones to the front. And stick mostly to products that you use regularly when you shop.
My point is that it pays to be an educated and savvy consumer.
Do your due diligence to ensure that you are not being taken in by urban legends and myths that cost you money and peace of mind.