We have all done it. Going to the grocery store and buying all that fresh produce at the beginning of the week and not being able to eat all of it before it spoils. So we throw it out and promise ourselves to do better. The truth is however, that as a nation , we are failing. According to a study by the national resource defense council, the US wastes 40 % of the food produced. Globally, we waste one third of produced food. Those numbers are staggering. Not only are industrialized nations wasting all this food while millions of people go hungry, but the amount of energy and resources that are lost from creating that food is detrimental to the environment.
Luckily, there are a few campaigns out there to help combat this problem. My favorite is Think.Eat.Save. created by the United Nations. This campaign is piggybacking with a few other notable campaigns, notably Save Food Initiative and Feeding the 5000. It is mostly an awareness campaign to get people to really look at what they are buying and what they are actually eating.
As a person always looking for a way to save money, analyzing my grocery usage has helped me cut down on my bill every week.
Here are some tips I use to cut down on food waste and save money:
1. Shop for groceries once a week.
If you only go once a week, you can easily keep track of what you buy and you must use what you have in the house if you run out. This forces you to use up what you have instead of running to the store to buy those 1 or 2 items you forgot.
2. Make a list (and stick to it)
Plan your menu for the week for dinners, lunches and breakfasts. Write out a list for each item you need. ONLY buy the items on that list. This will keep you from spontaneously shopping.
3. Once you make your list, check to see what items you already have
I have quite a bit in my pantry and freezer that tends to get buried, so I always double check to see if I already have some of the items on my list ( usually I do). This keeps you from overbuying.
4. Do not go to the store hungry
Not only are you more likely to spend more, you also are more likely to buy unhealthy foods you are craving. So at the very least have snack before stepping foot in the store.
5. Create meals based on what you have in the house
Have a night where you have to be creative and make a meal around all of those pantry and freezer items. Think of it as a Chopped competition.
6. Have a leftover night, or use leftovers as lunches
I always cook for for at least 2 nights and then whatever is left over I take for a work lunch. Not only is a healthier it is so much cheaper than eating out.
7. Rotate perishable foods. Older to the front, newer to the back.
You eat foods that you can see. If you forgot about those bell peppers in the back of the fridge, two weeks later you are just going to have to throw them out. That is no bueno. When you get new items from the store, put those towards the back and move the sutff from last week’s trip towards the front so that it will get eaten first.
8. Make produce visible
Produce always spoils so fast. The best way to make sure that does not happen is to consistently eat it. Not only are you making the healthy food visible and are thus more likely to eat it, you are saving yourself from food waste.
9. Other ways to save recommended by Think.Eat.Save.
Please visit these links for more info.
Think.Eat. Save. Link: http://www.thinkeatsave.org/
Greatist Post with the big picture summary: http://greatist.com/health/think-eat-save-wasted-food-012813?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Greatist%20Daily&utm_campaign=Newsletter%20Feb%202014%20Testing&utm_content=A