Do you know how much food you waste each week? Each month? Every year? Estimates vary, but the facts remain the same. We’re wasting anywhere from 30-50% of the food we buy, approximately 25% of that is right at home. That’s worth $1,650,000,000 every year. Yes, that’s billions with a ‘b’.
This short video explains it in visual terms that we can all understand. We watched this with our kids to help explain to them why throwing out half a glass of milk or leaving a half-eaten apple out to rot is a bad idea.
Not only are we literally throwing money into the garbage (or compost bin), but we’re wasting food that could go to hungry families. When we throw out food we’re wasting energy and water that’s used to make our food. We’re creating waste that’s bad for the environment-food waste gets tossed in many areas-not composted. Last but not least we’re wasting our own hard-earned money.
If I asked you to reach into your wallet and throw $25 or $50 into the trash you’d think I was nuts. But that’s what you’re doing every week if you’re tossing out food.
There are some simple solutions to help you stop food waste. They won’t take much time and they’ll save you big money!
This is not only a frugal thing to do, but it helps you ensure that you’re only buying what you need. Meal planning can seem overwhelming, but it can be made easier by using our rotating menu plan idea. It’s simple-just 4 weeks of rotating menus you use again and again. Don’t worry, you won’t get bored because you’ll switch things up each season (from things like roasts to grilled burgers) and you’ll have plenty of time and room for holidays, celebrations, and even the occasional sick day.
You can find info on how we meal plan here, and sign up for our email list to get your free template.
Clean Out The Fridge Night
One of the easiest solutions is our weekly family ‘clean out the fridge’ night.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. We clean out the fridge every Saturday night by eating whatever is leftover, about to go bad, or just needs to be eaten up. No one wants to throw out rotten bananas or week old steak. It just happens because we get busy and we have such abundance.
So, what are you waiting for? Go through your fridge now and pull out all the stuff that’s about the go bad. Make a salad or a smoothie, a hodge podge of a meal. It may seem silly to pair greens with toast or pasta with leftover steak, but go with it.
Anything that’s already too far gone (RIP pasta sauce we never finished, see you later moldy cheese) should be composted if at all possible. Our friends at MomPrepares have a slew of posts all about compost.
Start Composting & Recycling Whatever You Can
I know it’s not something everyone can do at home, but finding ways to compost and recycle what you bring into the house and don’t use is key. Composting can be done on a small scale or if you live near a community garden you may be able to drop of certain items for composting there a well. Even our kids’ school got in on the composting fun by accepting coffee grounds, tea bags, and newspapers for composting.
Seek out local places to recycle or compost if you don’t have yard space or services in your area.
Reduce What You Buy
Another easy way to reduce your waste is to simply not purchase as much food. This can take an adjustment if you’re used to stacking your cart full of snacks and food. The simplest way to reduce what you buy is by shopping on a full stomach, taking a list, and only purchasing what you absolutely need. After all for most people it’s not the challenge of getting to the grocery store that is in their way, it’s the challenge of using everything they purchased. If you live in an urban area you might even consider only shopping for what you need that day so you won’t have food waste at all.
Leaving just 5 things on the shelf each week could reduce your food waste significantly.
Eat Less On The Go
Another big food waster is eating out. While I encourage you to eat at home as much as possible I know that’s not always feasible or desired. Sometimes you just want an evening out for date night, or you may be traveling for work and need to eat on the go. In those cases you’ll want to plan ahead a bit. While I have tips for saving money when you eat out, you may also consider these tips to not only save money, but to reduce your food waste as well.
- Split your meal with someone at your table.
- Get a to go box as soon as your meal arrives (particularly helpful for chain or ‘American’ style food).
- Order off the kids or appetizer menu to reduce portion size.
- Order only appetizers.
- Skip drinks that fill you up and focus on food.
- Dine out at lunch or breakfast when portions tend to be smaller.
- Ask your server to leave off certain items so the food isn’t used or tossed. For instance, ask them to skip the side of breakfast potatoes or skip the side salad.
If we wasted less not only would money stay in our pockets, but food costs would go down, water use and energy consumption would go down, and generally we’d be making the world better just by not throwing out that limp salad or spoiled milk.
[Tweet “When people say they can’t make an impact on the Earth they don’t realize how much they can do by simply NOT throwing out their food.” via @centsiblelife]
What are some ways you reduce food waste at home?