How to Stop Wasting Food (And Money)

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 12, 2017

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June 4, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Grocery shopping is an ongoing task in everyone’s life, and if you’re focused on thrift you probably use mobile discount apps and paper coupons to reduce your grocery bill. However, the art of lowering food costs extends beyond just getting the best prices on items you buy. Here are three tips that address other key aspects of your overall approach to food-buying:

You know how it happens. It’s the end of the day, you haven’t had dinner yet, and everything looks delicious while you’re pushing your grocery cart down the aisle. Before you know it, fancy deli containers have magically jumped into your cart, and the bill at the checkout counter nearly makes you lose your appetite. To avoid this scenario, fortify yourself with a healthy snack ahead of time and don’t go into the grocery store without a list. If perishable items are on sale, it’s usually because they’re getting closer to their expiration date. Before you load up on bargain chicken or melons, it’s worth stopping to consider how quickly you’ll be able to use them. (Extra freezer space is often a good investment for this reason.) You can also sign up for a CSA, which delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to your door, which can help you from over-shopping at the store.

Summertime means warmer days, and in many households kids are suddenly at home rifling through the kitchen for snacks. Cooked food is quickly wasted by being forgotten on the counter until it’s potentially a health hazard, while decorative-looking fruit in a bowl can go bad overnight. Clean out your refrigerator so that forgotten containers don’t occupy valuable real estate, and make an extra effort to keep food chilled to proper temperatures. You can also buy a food vacuum system to keep food fresh longer to cut down on waste.

New dietary inspirations are often the start of positive life changes, but culinary experiments can also lead to piles of food waste left after the meal is finished. If you’re interested in transitioning your family to meatless hot dogs or gluten-free muffins, serve small batches to begin with. Choosy children will react more positively to small quantities of unfamiliar foods, and you’ll save money and frustration if your new offering is initially rejected. Also, keep a food’s future appeal in mind when generating leftovers: lasagna and pie will likely disappear rapidly, but excess cooked vegetables and abandoned halves of apples or avocados usually just become expensive compost.

Food nourishes our bodies and provides an occasion to bring families together. If you grocery shop wisely and minimize the amount of food you throw away, you’ll be able to more fully enjoy the pleasures of cooking and eating.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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