As I was flushing a very old, forgotten-about, slimy Greek salad down the disposal last week, it occurred to me that I have gotten a little lax about leftovers at our house. (I didn't compost the salad, because it had feta cheese mixed in) We certainly eat leftovers, but by the end of last week, we were (1) lazy and (2) lazy.
Eating leftovers is one of my tenets of saving money in the kitchen but I am even guilty of wasting food at times. I started wondering how much money I am actually wasting when I throw food away.
According to the EPA, Americans dump 34 million tons of food a year and it accounts for 14% of total municipal waste.
According to this article, a family of four wastes about $600 worth of food a year. The article doesn't state were it got that statistic and I tried to find it elsewhere, but if you really think about it, it probably doesn't take long for $600 to add up nowadays when you really take a look at the food we dump.
$600 is what many Americans spend on food each month. By reducing our food waste we could almost give ourselves a free month of groceries. Imagine having a month where you didn't spend any money on food.
Some ways to avoid food waste:
- Put the leftovers in your freezer. With the exception of maybe pasta and rice dishes, a lot of food can be frozen. Cooked chicken and veggies can be frozen and used in soups or casseroles at a later date. Raw vegetables like carrots, peppers, onions and parsley can be shredded or chopped and bagged and stored in the freezer for future dishes.
- Offer the extra food to a neighbor or family member, if you think it will go uneaten.
- Make one night a week, "Raid the Fridge" Night. One night a week, raid the fridge to get rid of leftovers. Set the leftovers up buffet style. Every one's plate might look different, but you'll at least use up the leftovers and reduce the waste.
- Brown Bag lunch. Take the leftovers to work and avoid eating out on your lunch break.
How much food do you think you waste annually? Could it add up to a month's worth of your groceries? What are some things that you do to avoid food waste? Let us know in the comments.
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This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.