Save money by not wasting food!

Image courtesy of "InHabitat"

Image courtesy of “InHabitat”

Did you know United States is one of top regions in the world that is wasting the most food? US produces half a million tons of edible food daily, 200,000 of which is never consumed! This much wasted food can end hunger in Africa, if not the whole world-hunger.

There are several reasons why you would stop wasting food, one of which is that you can save a lot of money.

In 2014, the average annual food expenses of all consumer units [they include individuals, families, people living together who are sharing expenses] was $6,759, which is little over 10% of their annual income. Now, we know for a fact that Americans are wasting 40% of food, which they bought with intention to consume.

40% of 6,759= 2,703.6

An average consumer unit can save $2,703.6 if they stop wasting food!

What is the significance of 2,703.6 dollars for an average American?

An average American consumer unit is paying or spending [annually]:

1. $2,868 on health insurance
2. $1,112 on vehicle insurance
3. $2,468 on gas and motor-oil
4. $ 3,631 in house-rent
5. $1,786 on clothing and services
6. $2,728 on entertainment

Think about all the things you can do with the money you can save by simply avoiding food wastage; you can upgrade your health or vehicle insurance, rent a bigger house, etc. The best option is to save this money in your bank account; you don’t have to spend every dime you have, save some money for the future.

The American community is currently divided in two halves; one is unaware, oblivious, or intentionally neglecting the food waste dilemma and the other one is trying to make a change by not wasting food. Unfortunately, majority of Americans fall in the first category. It seems like they don’t care about the consequences of food wastage.

United States is a major CO2 emitter, only second to China. The annual CO2 emission in US is more than 5,000,000 Kiloton. Methane, another greenhouse gas, is a lot more potent than CO2. Almost all the food we waste goes to landfill where it produces different greenhouse gases including CO2 and methane.

If you stop wasting food, you can save money and reduce pollution!

So how can you downsize or eliminate food wastage?

1. Expiry Date

No matter where you are shopping, you must always check product expiration date; it only takes few seconds to find the label and read it. Whatever product you are purchasing, you can estimate the time in which you or your family consumes it. Compare that time with the expiry date on the product. For instance, if you are buying a 500g Instant Dry Yeast pack/tin to use at home for a period of 8-months, then make sure its expiry-date is at least 8 to 9 months from now.

All products displayed on the racks in grocery stores or malls look fresh and new. Don’t let the glow and shine fool you. Truth of the matter is that you can often find different expiration-dates for the same product stacked beautifully together. If you browse through few packs, you may find one with a 5 months and another with 10 months expiry-date.

Be a smart shopper!

2. Buy Smaller Packs

How often do you visit the grocery store? Do you buy groceries for 1 week, 2 weeks, or for the whole month? Many individuals and families [perhaps you too] shop for groceries once a week. As you are visiting the mall/store once a week, you should avoid purchasing big product packs; for instance, don’t buy 500g of yeast unless you are planning to use it in 1-week, which I don’t think is possible for a household :)

Here is a true story where I, unfortunately, wasted food:

I use many items throughout the year; for instance, Bread & Nutella, Tea, sugar, flour, milk, etc. I decided to purchase a 3KG Nutella Tub once as I use it daily and I got to save a little money. Manufacturers offer small discounts on big packets to make them attractive to customers. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of the following questions before making this purchase:

Q. Can I even consume 3KG of Nutella before it expires?
A. It turns out I cannot.

Q. Can I properly store it once I open the packing?
A. I tried but it didn’t work. Slowly, the quality degraded and its softness continuously decreased. I also wasted some chocolate spread whenever I was transferring it to a smaller glass jar.

So if you need instant yeast, buy smaller pack. Don’t buy a 750g pack to use it for a long period of time. Instead, buy smaller packs that you can use for few weeks. You can buy new ones when you go out shopping.

3. Buying in bulk

Manufacturers use another gimmick to make customers buy more items. They offer discounts on bulk purchase. For instance, they may offer 15% discount if you purchase eight bottles of soy sauce. Don’t be tempted by such offers. Ask yourself, do I need this much soy sauce? Can I use it before it expires? You are better off purchasing just one bottle; use it and then purchase a new and fresh one the next time you go out shopping.

4. Leftovers

When you go out to dine, don’t wake away without taking the leftover food from your table. You can ask the waiter to pack it for you, they won’t mind doing it, and even if they do, you should still ask them to do it as you are paying for the whole meal, not just the food you ate. You can use this food in your next meal.

5. Cook what’s needed

Don’t cook more than what you need. Analyze how much food you [and your family] consume in each meal. Be smart by cooking reasonable amount of food in each meal.

6. Don’t cook for the whole week

Some people do the cooking on weekends; they cook large amount of food that they plan to use for the whole week. You should avoid doing that as a lot of food goes to waste in this kind of setup. Additionally, you should be eating fresh food; it is good for your health. Eating food, which you store for a long period, is not a healthy habit. Such food also degrades in quality overtime. If you can’t cook every day, then find some other alternative way to get your meals.

7. Make a list

During each week, add items you need to buy in a list, so when you go out shopping on weekend, you bring just the things you need. Often, people buy items they already have in stock at home. Stick to buying only the items that are in the list.

8. Use proper storage

You should properly store food. Put the leftover food, fruits and vegetables, and other items in the fridge/freezer. You will be amazed to see how much extra-life some foods get if you store them in the freezer; for instance, Bread. You can purchase bread for the whole week. Keep one loaf in refrigerator or in your kitchen if temperature is not high, and put all the other packs in the freezer.

By making few habit changes, you can save money, reduce or eliminate food wastage, and reduce pollution!

Useful Resources:

1. Food Waste: The Facts
2. Food Waste in America
3. The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Food Losses
4. Which countries waste the most food?
5. Food wastage footprint
6. 10 Facts You Might Not Know About Food Waste
7. Food Waste Facts
8. U.S. Food Waste Facts & Statistics
9. World Consumes More Than 11 Million Pounds Of Food Every Minute
10. Food consumption by the United States

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