Become a Better and Less Wasteful Grocery Shopper

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

The average American family of four throws away $1600 per year in food that’s been purchased and been allowed to spoil. I don’t know about you but $133 per month represents a healthy chunk of my monthly grocery budget which I’d certainly rather eat than throw away with nothing to show for it.

In the interest of striving to become better grocery shoppers, who not only purchase wisely but in turn use those groceries with the least amount of waste, let’s discuss how to maximize our grocery dollars, getting the most from what we spend as possible.

Being a good grocery shopper doesn’t begin – or end – at the store

Keep tabs on grocery consumption and waste – I keep a list for my own reference of foods that have gone to waste in my kitchen. Why did this happen? Did I buy too much? Do I use less than I think I do? Did I plan meals poorly? Did it have a short expiration date that I failed to notice? Did I forget I bought it? Did I forget to eat it? My awareness that I, for example, routinely throw away a couple cups of milk after the expiration date teaches me a couple things: I should either buy less milk or use more milk. As the expiration date approaches, if I find I have a still have lot of milk, I could plan on making pudding, cheese sauce or a creamed gravy to help use it up before I need to throw it away.

Store items thoughtfully – As soon as I return from the grocery store, I put away items with care while they’re fresh – and fresh in my mind. Throwing items haphazardly into the refrigerator is a sure way to lose track of them.

Out with the old, in with the new – I use the existing produce in my refrigerator when I purchase new. I take the opportunity to use a few carrots, onions, potatoes and stalks of celery as the basis of a vegetable soup or stew. Those vegetables are still perfectly suitable for use and I know that the produce that is currently in my fridge is always the freshest.

Plan meals immediately after shopping – I call this step “après shopping.” Upon returning from the grocery store, I sit down with my computer and my receipt. From my receipt, I list the perishable items in a spreadsheet – one column each for produce, meats and  breads I’ve purchased. Referring to the spreadsheet,I plan upcoming meals using the items. If I don’t plan to use something within a week (or before its expiration date) I freeze it for longer-term storage. Once an item is chosen for use in a meal or frozen for later, it’s removed from the list. Once the list is empty, I know that everything I purchased will get used.

Plan to use leftovers, too – When we don’t eat all the food prepared for one meal, I make a plan then and there for the leftovers. Whether it’s enough for another dinner for two or a single serving, I put it on the meal calendar as a “dinner redux” or a lunch for one of us. That way, we enjoy the food again, rather than finding a smelly, moldy surprise in the back of the refrigerator in the future.

The better a grocery shopper you are, the more you’ll get for your money, the more meals you’ll actually prepare and enjoy from the groceries you purchase and the less food you’ll waste. Most waste can be prevented with some thoughtful planning.

How do you prevent wasted groceries?

Bonus Tip:

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