According to the USDA and Feeding America, about 12% of American families struggle to pay for the groceries they need each month. However the average person throws away about $350 per year in either prepared and/or canned food. So while many households wonder where their next meal may come from, at the same time they are (as well as others) wasting food. Talk about a major challenge/opportunity.
It is really sad that on one hand that children, seniors, and low income families may be facing hunger. But at the same time literally billions of dollars is being wasted. The thing is that the $350 per year per person in waste (or ~$1400 per family) is occurring in all families of all income. So many low income families are tossing out food (granted maybe not quite the $350 per month) while at the same time struggling to buy groceries. So they are I effect “shooting” themselves in the foot.
This data is provided by multiple sources. The National Resources Defense Council reports on waste, while the United State Department of Agriculture reports on poverty and hunger. Other sources of information include Feeding America, the United Way, and food banks.
Each and every household should strive for zero waste. That should be the goal. So the next question may be, how do you get there? Well, we have some ideas. As we at needhelppayingbills.com think that $350 per per per year is totally unacceptable.
What to do about this problem of waste
First and foremost, track what your household is wasting. The process of solving almost every single problem (whether food waste, computer coding, a car breaking down, etc.) is understanding the issue. Learn the scope of it. What is going wrong? Where and how is the waste occurring? Go through the basic process of who, what, where, how, and why.
Once more information has been obtained, start to understand the root cause. Ask why. Then ask why again. Drill down until you get an answer. Are your kids throwing out a meal because they did not like how it tasted? Is too much food being prepared for dinner or some other meal? Or items spoiling? Understand what is occurring, then brainstorm a solution.
Possible steps to take
Get the data as noted above to understand the root cause. After that, proceed on the fix. While each situation may be a little different, in general the best solution for cutting back on food waste is planning.
Experts have a few tips for you. But they all revolve around planning, and for families living on a budget, shopping smarter. There are several things to do, and they include the following.
-At the beginning of each week, write down your meals for that week. Plan for the food you need. Add as much detail around ingredients as possible.
-Shop only for those items, and no more. The fact is that the National Resources Defense Council shows that people that buy “extras” and stock them in the fridge or pantry often do not use them, and it leads to waste.
-Be hesitant of buying in bulk, as those big packages often get thrown out.
-Use discipline…when in the grocery store do not browse but shop only for what you need.
-Try an online service which may help you cut back on those extras.
-Shop using coupons as well. So cutting back on hundreds of dollars in wasted food can also lead to savings on your budget.
-Use leftovers, and even plan them into your weekly meal list.
Just imagine what an extra $350 dollars can do for your personal budget. Also, this is after tax money. So maybe you needed to make $450 for that. The money spent on all that wasted food is significant, and it can make the difference between paying the bills for a certain month or not. There are also tons of other health as well as nutritional advantages to planning out meals. So go for it! Help your monthly budget, your families health, and the environment and cut back on waste.