On average, most families throw away 50% of the food they buy

Save on Groceries before You Leave Home

by Jill Cooper

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One of the easiest ways to save money on your grocery bill starts before you even leave the house. It's no extra work, you don't have to deprive yourself of anything and you don't have to clip any coupons. What is it? Stop wasting food.

On average, most families throw away 50% of the food they buy. If you have trouble believing that, then watch your family's eating habits for the next few days. How many times did your child eat only half of his lunch or dinner or drink only half of his glass of milk or juice? How much food gets thrown away when you wash dishes? How many fruits and vegetables have rotted and been tossed? How much meat have you thrown away because it is freezer burned? And what about those leftovers in the fridge or the cartons of sour milk?

If this is you, do you realize if you spend $400 a month on groceries, you are literally throwing $200 of it into the trash? What would you think if someone you knew took two $100 bills and threw them away? That would make dumpster-divers out of the most genteel among us.

Better planning keeps you from throwing away so much food, which will save you money. Here are some ideas on how to help you to stop the waste:

  1. Only fill a child's (or adult's) glass half full if they normally don't drink it all. You can always give them more when that is gone. If they do have left over milk or juice at the end of the meal, put it in the fridge for them to finish at another time.
  2. Check your fridge the night before you go to the grocery store. That way, you can plan your menus and choose what to buy based on the leftovers you have.
  3. When you get ready to cook a piece of meat like a roast or chicken, plan ahead. For example, when I take a roast out to thaw I don't think, "Ok, we'll have roast and mashed potatoes tonight." But I think "I will have roast and mashed potatoes tonight, BBQ beef tomorrow and beef and noodles the next night." That way, you won't find yourself three days later gazing guiltily at that dying leftovers thinking, "I really should do something with this but what?" and then end up throwing it out a week later.
  4. If all else fails, make one night a week leftover night. That's when you set out all your odds and ends of leftovers for everyone to polish off. This is especially good if you do it the night before you buy groceries because this leaves your fridge empty for the new things you are buying tomorrow.

Reviewed June 2017

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of LivingOnADime.com/. As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.

Take the Next Step:

  • Designate one night a week for leftovers. Put it right on your menu for the week. In our household, we call it "Smorgasbord Night." And everyone knows that they can help themselves to whatever takes their fancy from the items laid out.
  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

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