Now you know how Miss MoneyPenny loves graphs. This is a good one from the folks at NRDC and it really tells it like it is but these are just averages which means that some of us waste a lot less and some of us waste a lot more. In fact studies show that the average family of four wastes over $2000 in food per year!! Scary, isn't it??
So it is all about not wasting the groceries that we spend gobs of money on once we get home and have dragged into the house. Our culture has gotten away from good stewardship when it comes to food, which is another scary thought if you think about it. Big parts of the world do not have enough to eat and here we are wasting it.
I know that I'm going to hear groans about how we just don't have enough time to plan and manage our food dollars. If you have plenty of money to waste - read no further but if you would rather spend that $2000+ on something fun, stick with me.
Of course planning is the biggie here and those of us with a smartphone or pen and paper handy have no excuse. This is when you can set the stage for the most money saving. Decide what meals you are going to have for the week, or more if you are ambitious, taking into account what is in your pantry, in your freezer, and in your garden. Shop your house first, then check out the weekly ads noting what is on sale and in season and make your list.
Really most of us only have about 10 to 15 main dishes that we regularly prepare. And who doesn't live with a picky eatin' kid or husband?? We are not living with Guy Fieri after all so most of us are just cooking up stews and pastas with some chicken thrown into the mix. Just regular food.
Since we are pretty much cooking these 10 main dishes, with some seasonal meals, we know what we need to have on hand, so stock up when they are on sale. When you get them home take care to use up the perishables first and freeze what you can for later.
Miss MoneyPenny thinks that it is smart to cook with an eye for leftovers. If your family doesn't like leftovers, get rid of them, the family, I mean. If you decide to keep the family, change up that roast chicken and make chicken enchiladas a couple days later. I have yet to see any husband turn up his nose at Mexican food. There is very little in a leftover that won't live again deliciously in an omelet, pasta, or pizza. Be creative. There are several sites on the web to help you with leftover ingredients. Try food.com for one.
If you know that you aren't going to be able to eat your leftovers, freeze them like an individual TV dinner. All your hungry teenager has to do is grab and nuke when he gets home from soccer practice. Kind of like a fast food restaurant in your freezer.
So it is all about the planning. This is a very good habit to reach back and borrow from our Grandmothers and like all habits, it takes a while before it becomes second nature. You only have to be as efficient as you want here, depending on how much money you want to save, so go easy on yourself.
Food waste update:
Now that I've been going on and on about food waste, check mine out. The picture doesn't do the slime justice. This is the last of a bag of cole slaw mix that I picked up for $2.50 on sale. I love cole slaw and knew it was there and I had plans for it. I was going to mix it with a chopped apple, celery, nuts, and blue cheese and have it for lunch. Instead it went straight to the compost.
Cha Ching: $ .63