Find how to reduce the amount of food wasted at home to save miney on groceries.
Food waste is frustrating and it adds costs to your household grocery bill. Whether you are forced to throw away expired ingredients or get rid of uneaten leftovers or buy more groceries than you need, wasting food results in throwing money into the garbage. Just cutting back on the amount you or your family tosses out will result in an immediate reduction on the amount of money you spend on your grocery bill each month.
There are ways to become more efficient though. The USDA estimates that around 20 to 30% of food is wasted in the average home, so if you fall into that category and are able to reduce that amount, saving will flow to your households bottom line. If you are concerned with lessening the amount of perfectly good food you throw away and want to save some money in the process, there are five simple things you can do to break the cycle.
Plan Meals – Shop Smarter to Reduce Wasted Food
One major contributing factor to wasting food is when you purchase an ingredient needed to prepare one specific meal and then have no other use for the rest of it. To avoid such a surplus, plan out a menu in which you can use the same ingredient for several different dishes.
If you are having a difficult time coming up with a recipe, do a keyword search on the internet. Enter the component you are looking to incorporate into a meal and then peruse the free ideas offered in cyberspace. For added fun, try taking a culinary journey around the world and see how many different ethnic meals you can add to your menu.
Also plan out meals for a week or so. That way if you have any ingredient that maybe you will use Monday, if you planned out the week in advance you may decide to prepare another meal with some of those same ingredients for Thursday. That way you are pro-actively planning how you will cook and prepare your meals, those cutting back on waste and gaining efficiency. It also helps with the grocery shopping too, as it is less trips to the store, allows for smart shopping using coupons, maybe bulk buying and more.
Portion Control For Saving Money
It is critical to not make too much food. It is estimated that about 5% of wste is due to incorrect portions. Use portion control to cut back on wasted food. Think about when you go to a restaurant and how much food they give you. If it is too much, sadly people just throw it away. That unfortunately happens at home too – if someone cooks or serves too much, it just gets thrown out.
It is hard to start portion control as who really knows how much someone may eat. So to reduce food waste, keep track of what a certain recipe serves and how much your family eat. If it seems like it was too much food prepared, then cook less next time to save money by reducing waste.
Leftovers with a Twist
If you've made way too much of something, such as baked chicken, steak, mashed potatoes, or vegetable sides, don't just let the extra food go to waste in the refrigerator. Instead, create a whole new dish out of the remainders. Search online for a recipe with those items.
Leftover meats are the perfect fillers for enchiladas, sandwiches, and casseroles. Mashed potatoes and vegetables can go into pancakes, hand pies, or even pot pies. There are countless ways to use those leftovers to reduce food waster.
Overripe Fruits and Berries
Overripe fruits and berries make the best jams and baked goods. If what you have is not enough to make a sweet treat, then freeze it until you do. Peel the fruits and clean the berries, and stick them in a plastic freezer bag and store them up to six months. You can also use overripe fruit to make spreads for pancakes and waffles, muffins, cakes, bread, and assorted jams and jellies.
Donate Surplus Food to A Charity
Rather that throw the food away, donate it. Help the less fortunate. While this will not save you money, it is even better to be able to help the needy.
Now of course not all food can be donated, but if you bought too much of a certain ingredient or groceries, donate the surplus to reduce food waste. With up to 30% of food being wasted in the US, there is a huge opportunity to give surplus food, groceries, and other stuff away rather than wasting it. Give to a pantry or soup kitchen. Find a list of free food pantries.
Selective Purchasing to Reduce Amount of Food Being Wasted
The best way to prevent food waste in the first place is to practice careful shopping techniques that lessen the likelihood of ending up with extra food you do not need. When shopping, consider getting smaller amounts of fresh ingredients as you can always shop again when you run out.
Also, buy components that you can use them for multiple meals. When it comes to food that you have never eaten and may not like, see if the store or the manufacturer will provide you with a sample so you can try it before you buy it.
Also, this is why we mentioned planning your meals in advance (a week). That way you will be buying only what you need for that week and not extra food that may just end up being wasted.
Freezers are lovely appliances that allow you to store food for up to six months safely. If you like to bulk shop or realize that you have too much of a specific dish, divide your food into meal-sized portions that you can stick in the freezer for later use.
To prolong the life of your ingredients and recipes, invest in freezer-safe food-storage containers and wrappings. A vacuum sealing system is a great tool that allows you to store food in individual bags with all of the air removed. Freezing ingredients and prepared dishes will save you prep time and money when making meals in the future.
Challenge yourself to save money and food with these simple tips. By reusing ingredients and planning your menu, you will have less guilt about throwing away what does not get used. Reducing the amount of food you waste is helpful not only for the environment but also your wallet.