Are you looking to save more money?  Nowadays, that is pretty much everyone.  Did you know that the average American consumer wastes 250 pounds of food each year? If you could save a nice amount of money by curbing your food waste, what would you do with that extra money in your wallet? You could go on a much-needed vacation, contribute to your retirement fund, save for your child’s college education, or invest money into a renovation that could increase the value of your home.

In this article, we’re going to share some tips for getting more mileage from the foods you’re already buying. In addition, we’ll explain how you can consume or save your food before it expires or goes bad.

1. Properly store your food

Improper storage of food actually winds up leading to more food waste than you would think.  Most people don’t know the proper way to store vegetables and fruits.  Because of this, they wind up ripening early and eventually rotting.

As an example, most people think that produce like cucumbers and onions should be refrigerated.  This is actually not the case.  They should be kept at room temperature.

When it comes to proper storage of your produce, you want to separate those foods that produce more ethylene gas (this gas helps speed up the ripening process) from those that don’t.  This is a great way to reduce spoilage and save more money.

Here are foods that produce ethylene gas during the ripening process:

  • Green onions
  • Apples
  • melons
  • Apricots
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Cantaloupes
  • Peaches

Click here for a complete list.

2. Collect your food scraps

If you prepare and eat a lot of vegetables, then you’re likely wasting food without realizing it. Designate a scrap bowl for all your veggie scraps, like carrot tops, potato peels, stalks – anything you don’t feel like eating. While you’re cooking, make a habit of adding your scraps to the container instead of throwing them out. Afterwards, transfer your scraps to a gallon-sized freezer bag that you keep in the freezer.

Then, when you’ve saved enough scraps, you can make a vegetable broth that’s perfect for soups. You’ll put all your scraps in a six-quart stock pot with water.  Next, add some herbs and spices like coriander seeds, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Boil the mixture and then simmer for one hour, uncovered. Afterward, strain your liquid and start using it in recipes! You can even freeze the leftovers for your future broth needs. If broth isn’t your thing, then you can also compost your food scraps and then use that compost in a garden where you can grow your own food!

3. Watch your serving sizes and save more money

When it comes to portion sizes, we often serve ourselves more food than we really can eat or should eat.  That leads to food waste and larger portions also lends itself to weight gain.  In order to reduce food waste, you need to make sure your portion sizes are within a healthy range.  Not to mention, by reducing your food intake, you will be saving more money that can go towards debt, your retirement fund, a vacation fund or whatever your financial goals are.

4. Understand what “sell by” and expiration dates mean

If you have ever looked at a “best by” date and wondered if you should stick to it, you are not alone.  These “dates” are not regulated by the government and are determined by food producers.  They choose a date they think a product is most likely to spoil by. In actuality, the majority of food is still safe to eat even if the expiration date has just passed.

When it comes to the “sell by” date, that is used to let retailers know when they should remove a product from the shelves.  “Best by” is just a suggested date that consumers should use a product by.  The key takeaway is that a product is not necessarily unsafe to eat if the given date has passed. Just use your best judgement.

The one label you do want to pay attention to is the “use by” date.  This dates means the food quality may not be the best if consumed after the given date.

5. Make your freezer your friend

Now’s a great time to audit your freezer and decide how to start organizing it better.  This will help free up space to store food before it’s no longer safe or good to eat.  As a matter of fact, you should be reviewing both your refrigerator and freezer on a weekly basis to see what foods should be put in the freezer and what can be used from the freezer for family meals.

Not all foods freeze well, but they can most likely be incorporated into a cooked dish that will freeze well. For example, a bunch of raw carrots with their green tops probably won’t fare too well in the freezer. However, you can add the carrots to a hearty stew, which will freeze very well and provide you with a comforting meal for a lazy day.

Cutting your food waste will help you save more money

How much food do you think you waste on a monthly basis? What are some tactics you like to use to get more mileage from your food?  Watching how you store and handle food in your home is a great way to save more money and while also bettering your health.