The Trash report--food waste

The Trash Report

When I assigned the homework in which I requested that you keep track of what food items you throw into the trash during the course of a week, I promised that I would keep track of my family’s food waste as well and share that information with my readers.   I always make an effort to follow through on my promises, so here it is.

An itemized list of the food that was tossed from our fridge this past week for being too old to eat.

1.  A large mango that had gotten wrinkled and was brown when I cut into it.

2.  One grapefruit that had a large brown spot on the outside and the inside.

3.  2 individual peach cups from one of those 4 packs.  They were in the same cabinet as the beans from 1999 that I wrote about in a previous post, but the expiration date on the peaches was only from a year ago.  They had begun to discolor.  I’m not sure how much I paid for them, but I routinely see those 4 packs of individual fruit cups on sale for $1.99 to $2.50, so I estimated their cost with the higher price.

4.  Leftover chicken alfredo and pasta.  Usually, my youngest son devours any leftover pasta, but this was half of a too large portion that his sister had served herself and put in the fridge to “eat later.”  She never got back to it and I found it in the fridge.  It had been over a week, so I deemed it unsafe for her to eat.

5.  1/3 of a one pound package of thinly sliced black forest ham that was pushed to the back of the fridge.   I routinely get this  for $2.99 per pound.

6.  A package of marinated salmon that was occupying the same dark corner of the fridge as the ham.  It had an expiration date of 10/14/2013 which was nearly 4 months ago.  I paid $2.99 for it.

The cost of wasted food can quickly add up to more that you would expect.

Having itemized my list and totaled up the cost,  I was shocked.  It didn’t seem like that much, but little things add up.

  • Mango:  .99
  • Grapefruit:  .58
  • Peach Cups:  $1.25
  • Pasta with Sauce:  $1.50
  • Black Forest Ham:  $1.00
  • Marinated Salmon:  $2.99

Total Cost of Food Waste for the Week:  $8.31

That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?  Actually, it’s horrible.  If this is typical of the food waste in my household, let’s figure out what I waste per year.

A seemingly small amount of food waste can have a significant impact on your grocery budget.

$8.31 (the cost of food waste for the week I monitored) X 52 (the number of weeks in a year) = $432.12

What?  $432.12!  That can’t be right, can it?  Do the math again!!!!

Unfortunately, it’s true.  If this week was typical, I waste $432.12 per year.  I can think of some other things that I would rather do with that much money.   I am extremely distressed by the sheer volume of waste that we had this past week.  In fact, I am so distressed, that I intend to monitor the food waste again in a few weeks to see if it’s gotten any better.

At least, I can say that I didn’t send those things to the landfill.  My dogs ate the chicken alfredo with the pasta on their kibble, and they had the ham and salmon for training treats and snacks.  The grapefruit and the mango were cut up and went into the compost bin.  The only thing I tossed into the trash was the diced peaches from the fruit cups because I wasn’t sure it was safe to compost.  The plastic cups that held the fruit were rinsed out and put in the recycling.

The dogs got some pretty expensive snacks.  I hope they don’t come to expect it.  That could get very expensive.

What’s the point of this post?

It’s important to make the best use of the food you purchase to get the most out of your money.

Here are a few strategies to help with this.

  • Organize your refrigerator so that you have places for things, so they don’t get lost in a back corner.  Here are some tips for organizing a fridge top freezer, and this article has tips for organizing a small fridge and freezer.  Both of these were done on a very small budget.
  • Have a planned leftover night to make sure that you use up your leftovers.  My children love leftover night because they get to choose what they eat.
  • Make a list of the foods that you purchased, and how you plan to use them by creating a menu plan, and keep track of what you’ve made so the leftovers aren’t forgotten.
  • Plan to use the foods with the shortest shelf life first.  We will use strawberries and fresh herbs before we eat apples.   Plan to eat fresh vegetables from your grocery trip before frozen vegetables.
  • Buy only the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that you can eat before they spoil.

I have found that when I apply these principles to our grocery shopping and food storage, I end up throwing much less into the trash at the end of the week.

Let us know how much of your weekly groceries end up in the trash by leaving a comment below.  Do you have any strategies to cut down on food waste that I haven’t mentioned?  Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.

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