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Wanna Save $640 Each Year? Stop Wasting Food!

posted: 07/01/15
by: Mara Betsch
food waste dirty dishes
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We've all done it -- your milk is past the "best by" date, so you dump it down the drain. Or your make enough food to feed an army, let it sit out too long, and end up tossing it in the trash. According to a recent survey, 51 percent of people throw away food before they even get the chance to eat it! But wasting food here an there can add up to be a big problem, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Yes, there are "starving children in Africa," as our parents liked to remind us, and food waste is a major pollution problem, but wasting food also affects our wallets. And it's not an insignificant amount -- $640, according to their calculations. The saddest part is that most of that food is probably still fine to eat.

So how can you put the money you lose on food waste back in your pocket? Try these simple tips:

1. Eat food you can't freeze first. If you have items that will go bad a in a few days, like lettuces, try to eat those first. That goes for lunch meats and other foods that can't be frozen. But vegetables -- broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bell peppers, for example -- can be blanched and frozen for weeks.

2. Don't let seafood or veggies sit out more than two hours at room temperature.

3. Check your food labels. Sell by (how long to display the product for sale), use by (last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality), and best before dates (Date for peak freshness; not a purchase or safety date) aren't very well-regulated and are often arbitrary dates made by the food producer, so use these guidelines. Milk can be used 5-7 days after the sell by date, beef and pork can last 3-5 days in the refrigerator (and longer in the freezer), and eggs can last between 3-5 week!

4. Find uses for almost-spoiled foods. Put your too-ripe banana in your smoothie and use wilted kale in your favorite soup.

5. Go shopping more often. This can be tricky for busy people, but the easiest way to avoid food waste is only buy exactly what you know you'll use. Try doing a big grocery run for nonperishable items once a month, stocking up on cereals, rice, nuts, beans, etc. and going to the grocery store twice a week for fresh produce and meats. That way, if plans come up and you decide not to eat in, you won't waste what's in your fridge.