One thing that can often kill any food budget is waste. Often, we don’t think about exactly how much we are wasting, especially when it comes to thinking in terms of how much money is actually ending up in the trash. According to This article in the Washington Post, nearly 40% of all food gets thrown away. This is a staggering amount, even if you consider what is just ending up in the trash from your fridge or cupboards. In order to really get control over our grocery budgets, we must really look at what is not being used and what can be done about it. Here are 7 ways to cut food waste in your own home.
7 Ways to Cut Food Waste
Plan Your Meals. Not only will planning your meals help you create a food budget more simply, but it will allow you to only buy exactly what you need. Planning meals is simple and takes less that 1/2 hour each week.
Don’t solely rely on “sell by” or “use by” dates on packages. These dates that are on many products from fresh to frozen are not usually an indicator of the exact date the food inside goes bad and is unsafe to eat. It is merely when the food is at it’s peak and will possibly start to taste less flavorful. You can often keep things like milk for a week past the expiration date and still use it.
Freeze if necessary. Most foods can be frozen and still retain the same quality they had fresh. If a food you bought is getting close to going bad and you don’t think you will use it in time, freeze it for later. Most people don’t even think of it, but you can freeze cheese, lunch-meats, most fruits and veggies and even cooked meat. When you do your meal planning for the next week, include these items in it.
Store food properly. Make sure you are cooling cooked food down before sticking it in the fridge as it may go bad sooner if you don’t. Always cover things that go in there as well. Consider investing in a vacuum sealer if you need to. Additionally, there are some foods that shouldn’t go in the fridge as it tends to speed up the process of ripening, thus having spoiled food sooner. These include tomatoes, bread, and avocados.
Cook smaller amounts. Many families cook way too much to begin with. Start watching how much your family really eats and only make enough for each meal.
Don’t buy larger packages if it doesn’t make sense. Some stores will even allow you to buy a smaller amount of something if you ask. For instance, if you only need a little bit of cheese, hit up the deli counter and buy only what you need. You can also shop the bulk containers and buy small amounts at a time.
Use all leftovers. If you have steak one night and have leftovers, make a steak omelet for breakfast or a fajita for lunch the next day. If you can’t use it right away, freeze it. If you really need help with coming up with recipe ideas that use your leftovers, Google the ingredients or check out the search function on our blog.
What are some ways you cut food waste in your home?