The cost of food is rising faster than flood waters. Place the blame wherever you will ladies, but the fact of the matter is that it is time to reduce the waste and learn the tools of food preservation that will bring us through rising fuel and grocery costs. While I could write a short hardback on different ways to save green at the grocery store, the best way to start saving is to stop wasting what you have in the icebox. Do you remember all of those times that you didn’t finish your plate when you were a child only to hear your mom repudiate that “there are starving children in China?” It’s time to become “that mom”. ..well, sort of.
1. Decrease your portions
One of the biggest sources of food waste comes from “generous” portion sizes. By decreasing the portion sizes of your meals, you will accomplish two things: your waistline will thank you and you won’t be throwing food down the disposal. Think of food like money. Throwing away food is throwing away money. Would you take a crisp $20 bill and throw it down the drain? I didn’t think you would.
2. Tub leftovers and enjoy
One thing I do almost every night is put the dinner leftovers in a Tupperware container, and enjoy those for lunch the next day. This decreases waste and increases the money in my bank account because I avoid spending high prices on eating out or buying extra food for lunch at the grocery store.
3. The freezer is your friend
I have a confession: I am carnivorous, I love meat and my family eats it as a protein staple for every dinner. One way to minimize waste and save cash at the market when it comes to meat, is to buy meat that is on sale, then freeze what you are not going to use within a 5-day time period. (Special hint: Chicken is generally always on sale, and is good for you). Get some freezer bags and measure the servings appropriately to use later. You can do the same for soups, spaghetti sauces and other sauces, keeping uneaten portions in the freezer to cut down on prep time for future meals, while saving a bundle on having to buy everything new.
4. Don’t over buy on perishables
Produce is probably the foremost wasted ingredient in most households. Buy a produce bag. This investment of about $5 keeps fruits and vegetables fresh for up to 5 days longer than other methods.
If the salad starts to get soggy, here are a few tricks. For lettuce heads or boxed salad mixes, dampen a paper towel with water and a little lemon juice. Wrap the lettuce head or place the paper towel on the top of the salad mix. This keeps salad and greens fresh and crisp for up to 7 days after purchase. Only get enough produce to eat for a week, cutting out the waste and cutting down the expenditure on commonly used food items.
5. Start composting
A green thumb I most certainly do not posses. Yet, with state-of-the-art gardening innovations like grow bags and self-watering raised planters, even someone like me can create a garden and raise fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs to save even more without the hassle of worrying whether or not you’ve killed the latest outdoor creation in your efforts. To boost your savings by reusing old items, get a composter. When throwing out old food, put the tossed items in the compost and use that to fertilize your crops. Using simple, easy and painless solutions reduces your contribution of waste to the environment, while increasing the contribution to your savings account.
More from this Contributor:
Four Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Tight Budget
Girl Talk: Cutting Back and Saving More
Pass the Checkbook: Teaching Your Kids About Money