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Waste Less, Buy Less: Tips to Save your Food and your Hard-Earned Cash!

Posted by Whitney Ajie -


If you're like me, you cringe every time you have to throw away a piece of moldy or suspiciously smelly piece of food, produce, or leftovers. I hate wasting food, because it's like wasting my hard-earned money, especially when I know it can be prevented.

It makes sense that wasting less food will save you money. If you waste less food, then you can use the food you have for a longer period of time, and you won't have to buy items to replace the ones you lost. It really is a win-win situation.

How can we avoid food waste? There are several tips out there to help us. Here, I've gathered some that I've tried and tested myself that have helped me successfully overcome wasting food, which eventually saved me money!

  1. Plan your meals: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you've heard this one a million times, right? But really, it works! Planning your meals help you ensure most of what you buy will be used right away.
  2. Buy only as much as you need: It can be a bargain to buy a huge bag of something, but if you think it may spoil while you're figuring out what to do with it, just buy the size of product that you know you will use.
  3. Make only as much food that you and your family will eat: Not everyone likes leftovers, so any extra food will go to waste. Pay attention to how much you and your family usually eat, and only make that much. If you do like leftovers, sometimes those plastic containers get lost in the fridge and we forget about them. Tip! Write the contents and date on each container, so you can keep track of when the food will spoil. Plus, do an inventory of leftover food in the fridge at least once a week. (Reminder: Refrigerated leftovers generally stay fresh for up to 1 week; frozen leftovers, up to several months. Refer to this food safety guideline for details.)
  4. Use your freezer: As much as you can, freeze everything! It will save you from having to remember when you put something into the fridge, and frozen items (even leftovers) last a lot longer.
  5. Buy dry or canned foods: Aside from frozen foods, these will also last you a long time while you're thinking about what to do with them.
  6. Choose root vegetables, tubers, and squash: Turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash are examples of root vegetables, tubers and squash - all with longer shelf-lives.
  7. Choose to Use: Find creative ways to use very ripe or mushy fruits and vegetables, instead of throwing them away. In many recipes, it doesn't matter if a fruit or vegetable is mushy or not, because it will be blended, pureed, or cooked until it's soft. Here are some examples: Smoothies, Quiche, Homemade fruit spread/sauce, Homemade breads, Soups, Stews, Spaghetti sauce, Popsicles, etc.

For extra tips on how to waste less and save your money, check out: CookingMatters

Wishing you the best of health,

Whitney Ajie
Extension Educator for Illinois Nutrition Education Programs

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