How to Avoid Wasting Food

How to Avoid Wasting FoodI do the grocery shopping for my family of four. I also try to fix dinner every night, but sometimes I’ll cook more than I should. I keep the leftovers, which somehow end up hidden in the back of the refrigerator. By the time time I remember they’re still there, I have to throw them out, because they’re old.

I admit it—my family wastes food. I guess we’re not alone. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently came out with a report, Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. It reveals interesting facts about food, before and after it is on our dinner table:

…40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This not only means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also that the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.

I grocery shop once a week, and every time I go to the store I will see the clerks dumping expired food in shopping carts. The other day, they had about three shopping carts full of dairy products, meat and produce. I wondered how much of that food was going to be donated and how much was going to be tossed in the trash.

Read Related: 10 Ways to Save $2K a Year on Groceries

The NRDC discovered that American families toss out about 25% of the food and drinks they buy. A family of four like mine is estimated to be throwing away between $1465 to $2,275 dollars in food a year. Now, what family can really afford to do that?

USE THE FOOD YOU BUY
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests working with what you already have in your refrigerator to avoid wasting food.

  • Plan your weekly menu and shop for just those items.
  • Buy in quantities that you realistically need and will use. If you buy in bulk, make sure you have a way to keep the food from spoiling before you use it. An entire head of lettuce may be cheaper than bagged lettuce, but if you end up throwing most of it out because you didn’t use it all, you may have just thrown away those savings.
  • Think What do I have to eat? instead of What do I want to eat? Use up the food you already bought and have in the house instead of buying more. You already paid for it—so use it.
  • Use up your leftovers—take leftovers from dinner to work for lunch. This can save you a lot of money during the week, since you won’t be buying your lunch every day.
  • Donate: Don’t let food go to waste, donate it to local food banks or homeless shelters.

GIVE US YOUR SUGGESTIONS
Every Latina I know has her own ways of saving and not wasting, and that includes with food. We want to hear what you have to say. What tips do you have so we can reduce the amount of food being wasted day after day? We welcome you to leave your tips in the comments section below.