10 Ways to Avoid Wastage of Food – How To Waste Less Food and Save Money!
Let’s stop the madness of wasting our hard-earned money by throwing out food.
Billions of dollars and our natural resources are wasted every year due to people throwing away food they don’t eat.
Unfortunately, this is something that we all do on a daily basis without even really realizing it.
Not only does wasting food have social, economical and environmental consequences, it also strikes hard at just about every family’s budget.
The average size family has been reported to throw a few thousand dollars of food away each year. That adds up to around $165.00 a month! There are so many things could do with that extra money!
What Food items Do we Waste the most? Fruits and Vegetables!
We are all guilty of this – we start off with the best intentions of eating healthy meals all week and then load up on healthy foods (fruits and vegetables) on our weekly shopping trip, only to find out we are a little busier that week than expected.
Fruits and vegetables get pushed to the side, mostly forgotten in liue of less healthy options like take-out or thrown together meals. Does this sound familiar?
Here are a 10 ways that can help families waste less food. And by wasting less, we are in turn doing more for ourselves and our planet.
1 – Buy Less in Bulk, Shop As Needed
As consumers, we have a tendency to buy in bulk. By doing this, we convince ourselves we are saving money and time. However, the more you buy, the more likely one is to waste. Instead, buy items on a more frequent basis, and purchase items you will use in the near future.
Also, buying in bulk may serve you well when purchasing household items such as toilet paper. However, buying items in bulk such as fresh produce or items that may expire quickly may be not such a good idea. Although it may seem like a good idea, you really should ask yourself if you can really eat that amount of food in that time.
We all have heard over and over, shop only once for your weekly groceries. While this is good in theory, it is definitely more practical to shop a few times a week to avoid any food waste.
2 – Meal Plans and Grocery Lists
Thanks to the Internet, and us here at DinnerPlanner.com, there are meal plans created that are perfect for the busy Mom and family. Shopping with a list has been proven to help you keep track of food you really need, vs food you may wish to impulsively buy, and this provides a huge cost saving.
A shopping list will also keep you focused on the items you have written down, and less likely to purchase items on a whim. And thus less like to throw food away.
When your meals are carefully planned, and you shop for only what you need, food waste is decreased considerably.
3 – Learn how to Store Your Food Properly
This is such an important aspect of food waste. Storing food properly is one of the most important things you can do to keep foods fresher longer and ready to eat.
Invest in a good set of food storage containers. The new glass “snap lock” containers are awesome and will keep food fresher longer.
Keep rice and noodles in glass containers to help keep them fresher longer. Arrange them on selves and make them pretty!
What foods to keep on your kitchen counter – avocados, bananas, tomatoes, whole watermelon, peaches and nectarines.
What foods to refrigerate – apples, broccoli, cucumbers, cantaloupe, cauliflower, plums and lettuce
4 – Organize your Refrigerator
Cleaning and organizing a refrigerator is something that most household rarely do, if it is done at all. Truth is, how many times have you looked all the way in the back of the fridge, pulled out an item and it was expired you forgot you even purchased it? A useful tip when you unpack groceries, have the newest items in the back, and move those in the back to the front. That way the old foods are consumed prior to expiration date.
Separate the Spoilers!
Ever hear of the saying, “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch?” Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to apples, potatoes, onions, berries, etc. All of the food can be spoiled and thus must be tossed if the culprit is not removed immediately. When purchasing food that might fall under this category, check frequently, even before you place the items away, that they are all unspoiled.
Tricks of the Trade
The following are tricks that will help items last longer, thus lessening the need to buy more.
Onions: By hanging onions individually in pantyhose, they will last for over seven months.
Scallions: Keeping them in a jar filled with water standing upright will extend their longevity.
Bananas: Though bananas tend to be bought in bunch, separating them will double their counter life.
Bread: A few tricks, sticking a celery stalk in the bread loaf will extend the life of the bread. Also, because bread can tend to mold quickly, freezing slices of bread is a great way to extend their shelf life. Actually, that goes for most foods. Very few things cannot be frozen. Which leads us to..
5 – Just Freeze It
There really is not expiration date on frozen foods. And the great thing about freezing is that they maintain all the same nutrition value as in there fresh state.
Next time you pick up canned good, remember that the only difference in longevity is that the cans contains preservatives to keep them from expiring, while frozen foods do not. So don’t be scared to freeze your food. You’ll be glad you did.
6 – Get Creative and Repurpose
We tend to cut off and discard various parts of foods without even considering if they might serve another purpose. For example, broccoli stems can be made into a homemade pesto, corn on the cob can make a delicious flavored soup, and carrot greens can turn into a salad. No need to stop there… with any part of the vegetable you are tempted to discard, use them instead and create vegetable stock.
Remember, vegetables can be frozen, so if you can’t do it right away, you can easily save it for another time. Chop up those vegetables and throw them in a freezer bag to use later!
7 – Try a Meal Delivery Service
You see them everywhere! A box of food is delivered to your front door with the exact amount of food needed to prepare each dinner. This could save smaller families significantly in money and food waste if used as planned.
Learn small ways to stretch this food even further and save even more money.
8 – Remember to Share
Ordered a bit too much at the restaurant? Eyes bigger than your plate when you made your lavish dinner spread? Sharing leftovers or what’s left on your plate is a great way to prevent waste.
If you are continuously throwing away good food, find someone in your neighborhood that would greatly benefit from a few home cooked meals.
Have a garden? Don’t give away the food at the end of the season. Find people to share with the entire season!
Sharing doesn’t go for only humans, extend the invitations to animals as well.
However, before you place that plate in front of your pet, make sure that is is safe for consumption. While many foods pass the test to to feed your pet, some are not, so make sure to check before going so.
- Share food while eating out – This is a great way to cut down on expenses and at the same time your waistline. Split a meal in restaurants that you know has larger portion sizes. Portion sizes tend to be a little ridiculous and splitting food will prevent you from being tempted to overeat or throw out food.
9 – Lets Get Composting
The number one material shipped off to land fills? That’s right. Food waste scraps. The scraps are then turning into greenhouse gases, which are harmful to our environment. Composting, which involves combining waste items so they decompose can be done anywhere. It is beneficial because when materials are mixed together, nutrients in the soil will begin to naturally breakdown the waste and turn it into vitamin-rich material that aids the growth of plants.
When we compost, we are not only helping nature and plants by aiding in their growth, but we are also helping in keeping these scraps far away from landfills. Win win!
10 – Use it or Lose It
Check expiration dates on your food to find when it’s the freshest… not when it’s bad.
If you buy fresh foods such as vegetables, leave them where you can see them so you know to use them. If you buy fresh asparagus, it needs to be eaten that day or the next day. If you know tomorrow will be a busy day then cook it and store it today for tomorrow!
How Long Does Food Really Last?
Throwing out groceries is an annoying money waster, but everybody seems to do it more often than they care to admit. Part of the problem is an over-reliance on the date printed on the package. Whether it’s a sell-by date, use-by date, or best-before date, there is no reason to discard the food the day after it “expires.” Instead, these dates only signify the manufacturer’s guarantee of an item’s “peak quality.” Most foods retain both quality and safety well after this period.
If you can’t trust the date, how do you determine whether your food has gone bad? Your senses are generally the best indicators that a grocery item belongs in the trash. Here is what to look for in 10 of the most popular grocery items.
Milk is generally safe for a week after the best-by date printed on the container. Whole milk and previously opened containers of milk expire a little sooner: 5-7 days after the printed date. Sour odor, a lumpy texture, and discoloration are the most reliable indications that it is time to toss your milk.
It’s worth noting that you must store your milk properly to maximize its shelf life. It should be stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning that it belongs on an interior shelf of your refrigerator instead of the door. Items on the door experience wild temperature fluctuations every time it is opened, making it a poor place for perishables in general.
Butter lasts a month after the printed date if unopened, but only two weeks once you break the seal. Like milk, it must be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Yes, this means that the butter drawer on the doors of most refrigeration units is actually a bad place to store butter. Bad butter is categorized by a paler hue, increased difficulty to spread, and a stale or decomposed odor. If you’re worried about your butter, you may freeze it to extend its shelf life by 6-9 months. Its original wrapper is not freezer-friendly, however, so replace it with foil before freezing it.
Salted butter lasts longer than varieties without salt, but the guidelines above should still be followed. Butter will eventually grow mold, but you should discard it well before that happens. Margarine lasts considerably longer than butter, 4-5 months after the printed date on average.
Fresh eggs will hold for a minimum of 66 days after being placed in the carton, which works out to 3-4 weeks after the printed date. The shelf life is reduced dramatically once they are cracked, as egg yolks are only good for a day or two while egg whites last 2-4 days. Don’t crack them until you are ready to use them.
Bad eggs have that classic rotten egg odor, and the egg whites appear pinkish or iridescent in coloration. Clear egg whites are perfectly safe to eat, but the freshest eggs are categorized by a cloudy white color.
Canned juices last 6-9 months beyond the printed date, while bottled varieties last an average of 2-3 months. Once opened, most juices are good for about a week in the refrigerator. It may seem counter-intuitive, but juices with a lot of added sugar and preservatives generally hold longer than 100 percent pure juice.
The one exception to these rules is orange juice, which requires refrigeration while others don’t and still only lasts 1-2 weeks beyond the printed date. Bad juice is categorized by a sour odor and discoloration, eventually followed by mold growth.
Canned goods last a minimum of 1-2 years beyond the date printed on the can. As long as the can remains sealed, the contents should hold indefinitely. However, any dent in the can that causes its lid to become rounded instead of flat suggests that the seal has been broken. In this case, it is best to discard the item.
Obviously, you should not eat canned goods if they come out black. That usually means something went awry with the packing process. Once opened, you can expect your canned goods to last about a week.
Soft, packaged bread should be good for 5-7 days after the date printed on the loaf. Fresh bakery bread doesn’t last nearly as long, averaging just 2-3 days. Bread should never be placed in the refrigerator, but may last an additional six months if stored in the freezer.
Bad bread is categorized by the appearance of bread mold, which rather annoyingly comes in every color you can think of–including white. Bread is generally white anyway, making white bread mold very difficult to see. You can usually smell bread mold before you can see it, but sniffing it is a bad idea unless you want a ton of mold spores in your respiratory system.
Unopened cereal boxes hold for 6-8 months beyond the date on the packaging and still last 4-6 months once they are opened. Oatmeal lasts even longer (up to three years), but lasts just 5-7 days after it is prepared.
Bad cereal isn’t actually “bad” in the sense that eating it will hurt you. It has merely lost its crunch thanks to the unwanted introduction of moisture, a process that happens faster in more humid climates. The best test is to try breaking a piece of cereal in your hand. If you don’t hear a crunch, it won’t be very good.
Dry pasta can be expected to last 1-2 years past the printed date, but fresh pasta lasts only 4-5 days. This massive discrepancy is caused by the difference in moisture content. Bad pasta becomes discolored, adopts a dull appearance, and ultimately grows mold. Moisture is required for all three, giving dry pasta its longer shelf life.
Either type lasts about a week once cooked. Cooked pasta adopts the same traits as fresh pasta when it begins to go bad. If you have a pasta dish, remember that the whole thing has spoiled when one ingredient does.
Steaks, ground beef, chicken, and other meats all last an average of a day beyond the printed date. Cooked meat holds 7-10 days from the date of cooking, while frozen meat remains viable until freezer burn sets in (generally 6-8 months). Deli meats such as ham and turkey last 5-6 days after the printed expiration date.
All meats are categorized by dull, slimy flesh and a sour smell when they turn bad. Many also change color, going from a vibrant red (fresh) to brown (still edible) to gray (toss it).
Fresh fish should be used within 36 hours of purchase, making it one of the few food items that really expires as quickly as you think it does. Determining if fish has gone bad can be a challenge, as bad fish is distinguished by a slimy texture and fishy odor. Fish has both of those traits anyway, but they become more pronounced as the fish goes bad.
Hopefully, this guide can help you save on your grocery bills by keeping edible foodstuffs away from your trash can. Obviously, individual items may not last as long as they should. If you think something has expired, it is best to err on the side of caution and get rid of it.
Stop The Waste!
As you can see there are many ways to cut down on food waste. You’ll also see that by following some of these suggestions you will be saving money and who doesn’t want that.
So next time you are shopping think twice before you start buying too much! Less food wasted equals more money in your pocket!
Plan ahead and most of your food will not be wasted.