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Avoid Food Waste and Save Money

Updated on December 10, 2010

Food waste is a huge problem in America. Schools, farmers, companies, and you lose money every week when you throw food away. This food costs money out of your pocket, but also costs the grower or producer money as well. It is very expensive to grow and produce the food our country needs to survive. But we don't think about that as we are tossing the produce that rotted in our fridges or the half of the take out meal that was too much for us to eat in one meal.

But let's concentrate on how food waste affects our bottom line. How often do you shop for food each month? Do you make a weekly trip or is it every day. There are positives and negatives to either option, but how often you shop directly affects how much food you throw away. If you go to the store less frequently you are more likely to use what you have on hand, rather than buying new. If you shop every day or so, you will most likely use what you just purchased, not the food sitting in your fridge from the last trip.

But when you shop less frequently you have to be careful with the produce you buy. Berries will not last a week or two in the fridge. If you buy a week's worth chances are good that you will be throwing away half of the berries after they rot before you can eat them. It is a bit of a challenge to avoid all or even almost all food waste. I can't imagine that there is anyone that never throws anything away. From moldy bread, to freezer burned meat, to rotting veggies, food (unless ultra processed) has a life span and we (me included) can't always eat everything by the deadline. So what can we do to avoid food waste? Here are some tips that work for me.

First, make a plan. Having a plan for your meals will help you avoid buying random items at the store that you don't know how to use. Having a plan will mean you are more likely to eat the food you buy.

Second, know yourself and your family. Only you know what types of food you eat. Don't buy food that you won't eat. If you are trying something new, don't buy ten of the item, start with one. If only one person in the house eats bananas, don't buy a huge bunch. You can split bunches of bananas and just purchase what you need.

Third, place smaller portions on each person's plate. You can always go back for more, but I personally don't like to save food that has already been on someone's plate. Especially with kids as they mess with it, taste it and put it back on their plates, etc. Starting with less ensures that you can save more in the end.

Fourth, don't cook too much food unless you have a plan for it. I have accidentally made way too much of something and it wasn't very fun trying to eat it all in a few days. We get really sick of foods after the second or third time eating it in a week. Some meals I double and freeze half right away though. It all goes back to the planning and knowing your family's habits.

Fifth, package leftovers right after the meal. Either plan to use them in the next couple of days (lunches or leftover night) or stash in the freezer until you have enough for a leftover night next week.

Sixth, we have become obsessed with dates on packages, time frames in which something will still be good, etc. We need to trust our eyes and noses more when it comes to determining if something is safe to eat or not. American's have forgotten how to do this. No you don't want to take chances, but everything doesn't automatically go bad after three days in the fridge and milk is still good after the "sell-by" date, as are most dairy products.

Seventh, take care of your food properly. Don't leave food sitting on the counter for hours after cooking, or in hot cars, etc. There are also some things you can do with produce to make it last longer. Wrap celery in tinfoil, stand asparagus up in some water, store potatoes in cool dark places, keep tomatoes away from apples, etc. Find out the correct way to take care of the foods you buy and then do it. You will be amazed at how much longer it lasts when taken care of correctly.  If you can't eat what you bought right away, see what can be frozen for later use.  Freezing food greatly prolongs it's life.

Eighth, become aware of your and your family's eating habits and pay attention to what food gets thrown away. If you pack lunches for kids, ask them periodically if there is anything they don't like. Have them bring home whatever they don't eat so you get a better feel for what they like and dislike and how much they eat at school typically. With four kids I know this is a guessing game, but as a lunch mom at one school I see so much food thrown away it is unreal. I try to encourage kids to take the stuff they don't like back home with them and tell their mom that they don't like it. This will save her some frustration and money in the long run.

I challenge you to keep track of how much food you throw away in a week or even a month. Then figure out how much that money cost you. Throwing away uneaten food is just like throwing away your hard-earned dollar bills. I really don't like throwing away my money, how about you? See if you can go a week without throwing away any food. It is hard! But it can be done if you use these tips to help you.


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    • profile image

      Chapter 13 Bankruptcy 

      7 years ago

      I think the topic of this blog is very attractive and the information is also attractive.

      Thanks for Sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice ideas - I am for wrapping up leftovers and putting it in the fridge straightaway.

    • profile image

      Hard Money Loan 

      7 years ago

      "Avoid Food Waste and Save Money" - I agree. Managing our kitchen such a way really going to save a lot of money. Ironically who cares! By avoiding wastage of meal will keep our Budget within our reach.. So, why to wait for the new year. Make this your Resolution for 2011 as I had already started to follow this.

    • Adam Sherman profile image

      Adam Sherman 

      7 years ago

      Great hub. The money we save from not wasting food could well be donated to other less fortunate people who don't even know where their next meal is going to come from.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Wasted food is a crime with so many people not only starving but starving to death.

    • FrugalGal profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub. I can't think of a thing I would add. The worm bin idea is great and I have one but it's for food items we can eat like banana peels. I try to think about how much water for growing and gasoline for transportation I'm wasting when not using our food dollars wisely. It's so wonderful to see others on the same page.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I read a recent report that the average family of four that spends $175 a week on groceries ends up wasting $40 of that each week! That's over $2200 a year - wow.

      Great hub and rated up.

    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      I really like your hub. If we know how to manage our food. A lot of money wasted everyday if we prepare too much food.

    • Donna Janelle profile image

      Donna Janelle 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for all of these great tips! I have a problem with buying more food than we can eat before it goes bad, and we usually have to end up throwing some away. I am really going to try to reduce waste and not buy more than we will use. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Jennifer, You gave great advice in that hub. I end up going to the store too often but we don't waste much. I make a point to use up the leftovers or freeze them and use them another time. Now if I could get the shopping more organized. It's so easy to forget something. Thanks.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      As soon as my fresh veggies begin to look "down-hearted", I make a delicious soup, adding either beans or rice, onion, garlic and organic tomatoe sauce. What a great hub full of good suggestions. With so many out there going hungry, we must all concentrate on the points of your hub. Thanks

    • chspublish profile image


      7 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks for the hub, because it reminds me to buy a wormery, which can take care of food leftovers, peelings, eggboxes, toilet rolls, etc. It can help to take care of the guilt also about the wasteage around food.

      If you'd like to look at the following website you can see what I mean. However this website works out of Ireland, but I'm sure there are many sites like that in the US.

      Of course it is possible to make one's own and save money!

    • Specialk3749 profile image

      Karen Metz 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      What a hub to read just before going to clean out the refrigerator! LOL Really, I was on my way to the kitchen to clean it out and every time I throw something out I am going to think of this hub. :-) Thanks for the challenge!

    • richtwf profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent hub with some great advice and tips for saving money and lessening food waste. We do have a tendency to waste food quite easily so it's good to manage our eating habits better so that in the long term we ourselves benefit with more pennies in our pocket rather than being thrown away needlessly.

      Cheers and God bless!


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