Green Tip

Studies estimate that as much as one third of the world’s food—about 1.3 billion tons—is wasted each year. That means that the water to grow it and the fuel to ship it are squandered, and the food that ends up in landfills breaks down into methane, one of the largest contributors to global warming. Become more conscious of the food you are consuming—and wasting—by considering the following tips.

  1. Fruits and vegetables are the most common waste, followed by dairy products and bread. Meat comes in third but has a huge impact in terms of the resources used to produce it. Start a journal to monitor how much of these products you actually use in a week, then purchase accordingly.
  2. Do a “waste audit.” Keep track of how much you’re throwing away each week and make additional adjustments to your shopping list.
  3. When you see that you may not use up all of what you bought before it goes bad, consider freezing what you can. Many fruits can be frozen and either eaten as is when thawed or used in desserts. Frozen vegetables can be used in soups and casseroles. Bread that has been frozen may be a bit drier but toss it into the toaster for a couple of minutes and you won’t notice the difference.
  4. You don’t need to consider expiration dates too rigidly. They are not federally regulated and usually indicate the date by which the producer is certain the product will be at the height of its quality. After that date, there may be slight changes in taste, color or texture. The product won’t instantly go bad the day after the expiration date, so use your best judgment.
  5. Be realistic in meal planning. As you stroll down the attractively arranged aisles, you may feel inspired to make lots of home-cooked goodies for your family. Slow down a moment and ask yourself how much time you’re really going to have to cook and how many meals your busy family will have time to eat at home, especially if you have children very active in school activities.

It’s all about becoming conscious of what you actually consume, and that consciousness will likely also pay dividends to your food budget!