If you really looked at all of the food you threw away you would see it for what it is – money being wasted when foods go off or goes uneaten. When you save on food wastage you are also saving money because the food which goes to waste is not being eaten anyway, so you can spend money on only the food you do eat; paying for only what you eat and use helps you save on food bills, and reduce your waste imprint on the world.
There are six important ways you can reduce your waste to save on food costs, and these are:
1 – Meal planning
When you plan meal ideas for each meal, each week you can in turn plan a detailed and accurate shopping list for the week as well. Knowing the exact quantities you need and when these items will be needed means you don’t buy more than you need so it goes to waste, and you don’t buy perishables you won’t get around to using until the end of the week, by which time they’ve seen better days and you are inclined to chuck them out.
Plus, in making such a detailed shopping list, your trip to the supermarket is more organized and efficient, saving you time and money there too. You buy only what you need and can more easily avoid impulse items, and you don’t forget anything and can therefore avoid multiple trips.
2 – Portion control
Saving money on food wastage is an opportunity to look at how much you and your family are consuming, and expecting to consume. Aim to cook only the amount you need for each person’s serve, unless you are able to take the leftover portions as lunch the following day. Alternatively, cook more than you need and divide the meals into portions which can be frozen, and bought out at times when you would be tempted to opt for expensive take away.
3 – Second chance foods
Before you give old food the flick from your refrigerator or pantry, consider when it can be used in another application. For example, older fruit, or fruit which has become bruised bumbling around the crisper drawer can make delicious smoothies. Similarly, vegetables which are starting to wilt can still make tasty soups. Or you can transform your previously unappealing fruit and vegetables into sweet treats, baking them into pies or muffins. Even pasta or rice you find which has gone out of date in the back of the pantry can be cooked up as pet food to save on wastage.
You can also look at your leftovers in a new light. If there are not enough vegetables left over for a whole new meal the next day, use them as the base of a stew. You could even try using left over meats, especially a portion of tuna which didn’t get eaten at dinner, in a past bake the next night. If you want to save money on your food bills and avoid wastage, it is time to get creative. The internet offers you access to the recipe books and ideas of home cooks and chefs from all over the world, so take advantage of that resource.
4 – Freezer control
Your freezer is not just for ice cream, it can be an important tool in controlling your food intakes, and the rate at which you can use that food. For example, freeze your loaf of bread when you get home from the supermarket, and take out just a few slices at a time as you need them. This stops the whole loaf going off, and you always have fresh bread.
You can also freeze most leftovers if you can’t take them for lunch the next day, you could take them next week. You can of course plan your meals to include frozen portions of a previous meal, to give yourself a night off from cooking each week.
5 – Fridge order
An organized fridge can meal less wastage because you know what is in there, which are the leftovers and when things need to be eaten by. You can organize your fridge in this way with sticky notes, color coded containers or segmented areas of the fridge – for example, everything on the second shelf is leftovers which need to be eaten this week.
Before you designate a cut off time for consuming certain items, it is important to understand the difference between the used by date, and the best before date. Food past its best before date is recommended to be consumed before that time because that’s when it tastes its best. However, it is unlikely to kill you if it has been stored properly.
The used by date on the other hand can be riskier to defy, and should especially be heeded on items such as milk, dairy and meat.
6 – Save on gardening
Food for your garden can also be expensive but you can turn your food waste, into meals for your plants. Investing in a worm farm or starting a compost pile in a corner of the backyard can provide you with bountiful and rich organic matter that your garden is going to love.
Alban is a personal finance writer at Home Loan Finder, which offers free guide on