Last week, I mentioned that when I watch those TV shows or news clips where people have basements full of food items and do super coupon shopping and bring home tons of food items for next to nothing, I am very impressed, but I often wonder how much of that food gets used before it spoils. Food that spoils before it is used goes into the trash. Food that goes into the trash is money wasted. This is an obvious fact, but it’s one that is often overlooked. I know a woman who routinely throws out all of her leftovers from meals because no one will eat them, and she’s not alone. Many American households throw out leftovers rather than eat them, but they wouldn’t routinely throw cash into their trash can. Dinner leftovers can make a great next day’s lunch.
Statistics say that the average household throws away approximately 10 – 40% of the groceries that they buy, and rotting food is a large percentage of the household waste that goes into the landfills. The same statistics show that over the last 40 years, food waste has increased by 50%. Our grandmothers’ generation would be appalled by this behavior.
According to the most recent information from US Department of Agriculture as I write this, the average American family of 4 spends between $552.70 and $1,258.50 per month on groceries, depending upon whether their grocery spending is “thrifty” or “liberal”. If these people are typical, they are throwing away from $55 to $503 per month. That means between $660 to $6,038 of their yearly income goes into the garbage. None of us would knowingly throw large sums of cash into the trash, but many have no qualms about throwing food away, even perfectly good leftovers. I don’t know about anyone else, but I sure could put either of those sums of money to good use.
If you want to save money, don’t buy food that you later throw away. That is the first major tip on building a well stocked pantry. Buy what you need, what you will eat, and use what you buy. It can save you a huge amount of money. Oh, and take those leftovers for lunch.
Homework for the week: Keep a piece of paper and a pen or pencil near the fridge or trash can and write down every food item that goes into the trash. At the end of the week, sit down for a few minutes and look at the list. Estimate how much each item cost and see how much of your hard earned money is going into the trash. You may be able to pat yourself on the back, or you might be shocked into action. I will honestly report my household’s waste, too.
NEXT WEEK: How do you decide what to store?
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