Saturday, May 12, 2012

Leftover Day

I hate to through food away. When I was growing up, the starving children in China would have been welcome to a lot of the stuff I had to eat, whether I wanted it or not. My parents probably didn't care that much about starving children, but we were not well off and food for four growing children was a big part of the budget. My parents were not going to throw food away; guilt was better than the alternative (which was to sit at the table until you ate what was on your plate or were dead.)

When my husband met me, I converted most leftovers into soup. I called it "garbage soup," which turned out to be a strategic error. He's not a big fan of soup anyway; he definitely wasn't going to eat anything with "garbage" in the title.

When the kids were growing up, we had a leftover night once a week. Any bits of things that weren't enough for a meal went onto the table, and we dined on the bits left over from meals throughout the past week. Today my husband and I are having a leftover day.

Americans waste way too much food. About 400 lbs of food per American is wasted. Not all of that actually gets to our homes for us to throw away, but that is a huge amount of food. However, American families could save $500 to $2000 on their grocery bills annually by turning this sad statistic around. I can use that much money--if for nothing else than to pay the additional amount food is costing. Have you noticed how much groceries are going up? The last few years have seen prices rise faster than usual. Although 2012 is supposed to be back in the normal range, some common foods will have significant increases. Here's the USDA on 2012 food prices.

So what can we do?

  • Make a grocery list and stick to it
  • Buy less--we tend to buy  more than we need
  • Keep better inventory of what we have--I have been known to buy something I have on the shelf because I didn't see the item in the pantry. Sometimes I end up throwing the one in the pantry away because it is 3 years past the expiration date (yes, it has happened.)
  • Use the leftovers
  • Compost food waste, so it is a least going to some good and not into the landfill
Save money while doing good for the planet.

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