Last year I started grocery shopping daily or almost daily to reduce food waste in my own kitchen. I tried different shopping and cooking strategies including bulk freezer cooking, Blue Apron Meal Kits, weekly shopping, and none of it fit my food personality. The standard advice to save money is to shop less frequently and generally that’s great, but maybe not the best advice for grocery shopping when you are a household of one or two people.
The shopping strategy that saves me the most money and eliminates food waste is almost daily grocery shopping. Actually, I find grocery shopping to be a pleasurable experience, but then again I kind of love food otherwise I wouldn’t have a food blog, right. :-). While at the grocery store I’m only picking up a few items, so I’ll use my straw market tote. I love a small ritual and using my tote is an elegant way to bring my groceries home.
My wake-up call happened while cleaning out my fridge and filling a paper grocery bag with expired and spoiled food. Before tossing in the trash I decided to calculate the cost of the wasted food. I was ashamed that the food I was throwing out had a value of over $50.
By shopping daily I’m not only saving money and reducing food waste, but I’m also cooking with the freshest ingredients possible.
I’m not the type of person who knows what I want for dinner for Friday on the previous Monday! Several months ago I got the bright idea to try using Blue Apron, easy, right? I received a three-meal kit and wasting two of the meals, I just wasn’t in the mood for what I ordered from Blue Apron. To be fair, the food was fresh and adequate quality, but I’m too gastronomically spontaneous to order my meals so far in advance.
I shop weekly for basics like condiments, crackers, you know, the non-perishable stuff. For dinners, I shop the same day, stopping on the way home for a ten-minute grocery detour. It’s even faster if I use a free service as Clicklist offered at my local Ralph’s. Nowadays most grocery stores offer some sort of pick-up service, why not use it.
The exception is on Fridays I usually buy enough for a couple of dinners and weekend breakfasts just in case I decide to hole up in the house for the weekend. By Friday I’ve usually decided what I’ll be cooking on Saturday for the blog.
Useful Tips To Reduce Food Waste
The best approach to reducing food loss and waste is not to create it in the first place.
- Shop your fridge and pantry first to avoid buying food you already have on hand.
- Only buy what you need for the meal. Make good use on the salad bar for small quantities of vegetables.
- Avoid marketing gimmicks that encourage you to buy more than needed. Purchase ten perishable items and five spoil in the fridge, that’s money wasted and more packaging trash for the landfill.
- Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities; you will create less waste Shop for individual pieces of fruit and vegetables over pre-cut and buy only the amount you need for the one meal.
- Check the “sell, use, and best” before dates on products before purchasing, look for extended freshness dates.
- Always rotate food, put food expiring first in the front of the refrigerator.
- Use dinner leftovers for the next day brown bag lunch.
The daily ritual of shopping for the perfect ripe heirloom tomato or the best cut of meat is relaxing. Shopping in grocery stores that display the fruits and vegetables beautifully is a feast for the eyes.
USDA estimates the amount of food loss and waste from the food supply at the retail and consumer levels: in 2010 food loss and waste at the retail and consumer levels was 31 percent of the food supply, equaling 133 billion pounds and almost $162 billion.
How do you reduce food waste in your kitchen? Please leave a comment and share your tips to reduce food waste.