Stop Wasting Food!

Most people don't have extra money to throw away, but many of us end up throwing food away.  That's just money lost! Here are some tips to get the most from your food dollars and ways to stop wasting food:
  1. Don't buy more food than you can eat before it goes bad.
    • This is especially true for fresh fruits and vegetables.  Eating fresh fruits and veggies is great for a healthy diet, but fresh foods won't last forever. Many fruits can be frozen and eaten later.  Try keeping a zipper-sealed plastic freezer bag in your freezer for fruit than can be used to make smoothies.
    • If you know you can't eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, consider buying bagged frozen or canned ones instead; these will last much longer. 
  2. Take advantage of leftovers!
    • Left-over main dishes are a great way to stretch your food dollars, but you need to remember to eat them!  Be sure to keep left-overs in the front of the refrigerator (not pushed to the back, where they can get lost).  Put left-overs in containers that are easy to take for lunches. 
    • Freeze extra main dishes if you know you aren't going to eat them in a day or two.
    • Remember to throw left-overs out after four days.
  3. Don't buy more than you need.
    • Even though many foods are cheaper when you buy in bulk or in larger packages, they aren't really saving you any money if you end up throwing part of it away.  Pay attention to how much your family really does eat of certain foods and buy accordingly.  Don't be tempted by buy-on-get-one offers, if the product isn't something your family will eat before it goes bad.
    • Consider freezing part of your loaf of bread, too, if you know your family won't go through a whole loaf before it starts to mold.  Be sure to use freezer bags and don't just toss the loaf into your freezer in the plastic bread bad that it comes in -- those plastic bags are not meant to keep freezers from drying out your bread.
  4. Treat meat right!
    • Buying meat on sale is a great way to save money, but you need to either use it or freeze it within a few days of buying it.  Again, be sure to use freezer bags for your meat to avoid freezer burn.  Meat that is only wrapped in plastic is not ready to toss in the freezer!
  5. Eat up the oldest foods first.
    • Watch those expiration dates!  A good grocery store will rotate its stock, so that the oldest foods are up front and the newest foods are at the back.  You should do the same thing in your pantry so that your family eats up older foods first.  And always try to buy foods with an expiration date well in the future so you have plenty of time to eat it up.

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall