Meal Planning Tips to Avoid Food Waste
Obviously, everyone’s tastes and nutritional needs vary. Planning your recipes can be a lot of fun, given today’s prevalence of excellent food blogs, magazines, and, of course, Pinterest!
Think about the last time you went to the grocery store.
Did you use everything on your list until it was gone? Or did a lot of the food sit in the fridge or pantry, forgotten — a byproduct of wishful thinking and poor planning?
If this sounds like you, we’re with you! Nearly everyone has experienced the occasional rotten tomato, moldy cheese, or avocado ripened beyond repair.
The Cost of Wasted Food
Consider the impact that this has both on your wallet and on the environment. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study reported that the average American produced 218.9 pounds of food waste in 2010. The average national cost of food waste at the time was $161 billion.
Even more disturbing is the fact that this food waste accounted for 30-40 percent of the total food supply. To think, 4 in 10 filet mignons went to the landfill!
Now that you’ve been preached to, there is something that you can do.
Controlling your own food cost begins with a food budget. How often do you eat at restaurants? What is that costing you per week? Per month? Annually? How much do you spend on an average trip to the grocery store?
How much unused or unwanted food ends in the garbage? Those are dollars in your garbage can.
How to Plan Your Meals
Start with a spreadsheet or a piece of graph paper. Plot the days along the X-axis and the slots for meals along the Y-axis. Consider some of the dishes you can easily prepare. Pencil in times when you know your schedule won’t permit a home-cooked meal.
Visualize Your Week
By knowing when you’ll be home and when you’ll be out, you can start to plan a shopping list based on the meals you’re sure you can eat at home. Don’t buy extra ingredients or random items you “might” want. Also, don’t go to the store when hungry!
Align Your Budget and Your Grocery List
Chances are, if you’re like most Americans, you eat at restaurants a lot. While not inherently bad, this does start to take a toll on your wallet. Add up the amount of money you spend on restaurants for a whole month and imagine what you could do with that extra cash. You could be that much closer to being debt free!
If you’re having a hard time with all of this, we are with you. Get started with our free budget calculator.
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