The following is a guest post by Anum Yoon of Current on Currency.
The cost of groceries has increased significantly. While the unemployment rate is at a satisfactory level, most people are still having a difficult time making ends meet. For that reason, they are forced to budget, especially with groceries. Fortunately, saving money on groceries is possible and easy when you cut down on food waste.
10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries By Reducing Food Waste
Approximately 35% of food supplies are wasted in the USA each month. This equates to about 20 pounds of food for each person. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is! Those pounds of food could be saved to last longer and save you money. The following tips will help you cut down on food waste and save money.
1. Stick to Portion Control
All you need for this is a scale and measuring cups. A person should consume about 5 ½ ounces of meat per day. For each meal, be sure to weigh the meat to keep yourself within that amount. It’s likely you will be able to eat the entire portion of meat, so you won’t have to worry about throwing any of it away. In addition, you will be eating a healthier diet.
You can do the same for other foods. The following are the recommended portion sizes for a 2,000-calorie diet according to the USDA:
- 1 ¼ cups of cooked beans
- 2 ½ cups of vegetables
- 2 cups of fruit
- 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk
- 3+ ounces of whole grains
2. Freeze Foods
Foods last longer when frozen. Buy food items in bulk and then freeze them individually. You can then pull out however much you need each time. You may want to use freezer bags or the shrink-wrap system that will preserve your foods even more.
3. Make a List
Don’t ever go to the grocery store without a list. You will buy much more than you need if you do that. When you’re at home, look through your fridge and pantry to see what you need, and then write down what you’re out of and what you would like to eat for the week.
4. Create a Menu
If you have a difficult time visualizing what you will eat for the week, it’s better to create a menu. From that menu, you can buy only what you need. Remember portion control. Try to buy only as much as you need.
5. Go to the Meat Counter
If you don’t like to freeze your meats, you may want to purchase them at the meat counter. You can then only purchase one or two chicken breasts rather than the entire package of them.
6. Partner with a Friend
If you have a friend who is interested in saving money by decreasing food waste, you can share bulk foods with her. For example, if you buy celery but know you can’t finish it all, you can split the cost and the bunch. You can do this with other produce and dry goods.
7. Eat Leftovers
While leftovers sometimes don’t taste as good as when they’re freshly made, saving them is the best way to reduce food waste. Be sure to put the leftovers in the fridge as soon as they are cool enough and heat them to the recommended temperature.
8. Use Up All Items Before Your Next Trip
It’s common to have some leftover items in your pantry and fridge before you go grocery shopping. Those items can end up sitting in those places until they expire, though. Since that is wasteful, be sure to eat everything before you go back to the grocery store. The best way to use up leftover items is to throw them into a pot and cook up a one-pot meal. You may need additional items to add to those items, and that is okay, as long as you do use them.
9. Use Veggie Savers
Since vegetables tend to expire much faster than other food items, visit your local home goods store to purchase vegetable-saving bags or containers. You can place your produce in these containers, which will keep them fresh for longer.
10. Only Buy What You Need for the Day
If you have time, you could visit the grocery store often (daily or every two days) and just buy what you will eat that day or for two days. Once all of the food you’ve purchased is consumed, you can go back for more.
Try these suggestions to reduce food waste in your household. You may just save enough money to afford a nice vacation or an item you’ve really been wanting. It’s good to treat yourself sometimes, so give it a try!
Anum Yoon is a blogger, freelance writer and everything in between. She mostly writes about money, but also enjoys writing about anything that piques her interest. She created and maintains her personal finance blog Current on Currency. Her interests include emulating her grandmother’s cooking and being a gym bro.