Thursday, January 31, 2013

Food Waste=Lost $$

And this is just one thing wrong in this country.

I watched this segment on the national news the other night on Food Waste.
Go check it out HERE.
Go ahead.....I'll wait.

My thoughts......
First off, they seem to have no clue what they actually spend on food for a week.
I think they pulled that $300 number out of the air, because then they go on to think it extrapolates out to up to $1500 per month.

Second, the husband is a financial planner.
You work as a money professional and you don't seem to operate with a budget on a personal level, you have no clue how much money is going to your food expenses AND you are allowing on average 13 POUNDS of food to be thrown away every week?!
Would you want this guy to be advising YOU on how to take care of YOUR money? lol

 Third, have these people never heard of LEFTOVERS?
Obviously they've never had to eat them before given the amount of money they make.
How difficult is it to take Taco Meat and incorporate it into something else?....or take Squash Soup and remake it into a sauce or blend it into some kind of baked good?.....or take leftover produce and do ANYTHING with it?  Heck, she could have even just taken those greens and juiced them.

The report went on to quote that the average monthly food waste costs in the US today amount to $190 per family.  Using this figure, a family would throw away a whopping $2,280 worth of food every year and I would bet that most of that food was still perfectly edible!

Good Googley Moogley people!!

I've seen "experts" say that a family/person should be spending between 9-15% of their income on food.  They didn't say whether that was on their gross or their net income.  Somewhere in that range seems to be the accepted happy place for food spending in the US.  Is your food spending falling within this 9-15% range?
I find this method of figuring how much to allot for your food very flawed.  It might sound reasonable for a family on the lower end of the income scale. But a family with 2 wage earners making over $100K per year?  The lower end of 9% would see them spending $18,000 a year on their food needs or $30,000 if they allotted 15% of income to food expenses. 

I'm not making a judgement call on how much families spend on food here.  I get it that people on the lower socioeconomic rung of the societal ladder have to spend more of a percentage of their income on food.....that's just the way the math works.

I'm just saying that if we all were more vigilant on NOT disposing of perfectly edible food, imagine how much of the food we need to REBUY each week to feed our families wouldn't have to be purchased again, saving each of us part of our income.
Now add up that say, $20 a week we throw away, and multiple it by a year of weeks.......the weekly food we waste and don't think it's a "big deal" to our starts to really add up to serious dollars.

Serious dollars over the coarse of a year you could have spent on other priorities in your life--paying down debt, socking away into an emergency fund, beefing up a fund so that your next cars didn't have to be financed......the list goes on and on.
I'm not saying to cut down on the type or amount of food you buy.  Just use ALL of what you buy.  Don't waste anything!  It would be like found money(the money you were spending to rebuy the food you let go to waste). Found money to put toward other goals in life!

Stop overbuying food you aren't planning on preparing to save for later(canning/freezing/dehydrating).
Get a handle on portion sizes so you aren't cooking more food than you need for a meal.
If you do end up with leftovers, find ways to incorporate them into new dishes.
Clean your fridge/pantry so that you can find the foods in there that need to be used up by a certain date.
If a food does go bad on you even after all your steps to avoid it, make it do duty in your compost pile(if applicable)and grow something.  Compost is the "saving grace" for food waste.

Have a look at this TED talk too....



  1. I think about this every day. It's because I feel we are fortunate. So many in the world starve. Many families in the third world could *live* on and feel they are experiencing abundance with what many families throw away.

    We throw away very little. The dog gets all fruits and veggies that we can't eat. She is extra healthy because of it. We only eat fresh whole foods and it would be so easy to over-buy but I force myself to use it! Sometimes it means we are crammed full of veggies and fruit by the end of the day -- but that is healthy.

    The volume and garbage quotient of what is purchased by Americans astounds me. This is a message (along with water conservation) that needs to get out!

    1. I hear ya Alex.
      The crisis with water concerns me and I see that being the big thing that changes our society.

  2. This post is almost as if you knew, Sluggy, that I made a terrible, horrible tasting dish that I'm very sad I'll have to trash because I can't force myself to eat the other half... I hate, HATE wasting food and I know how much went into this dish (about $6.25), and it pains me, but I can't make myself eat it. I do try not to waste food by means of buying things that can be frozen or stored long term, or buying small quantities of stuff I have to use right away.

    1. We'll let you slide this one time I've had a few of those just can't stomach it times too.

  3. Food waste makes me ill. I do my best to freeze and turn anything left over into some kind of meal for us. Or smoothie, fruit salad pretty much anything.

    One of the biggest food waste I ever say was when I was a lunch mom. So many children came with way to much food and instead of taking it back home with them they would through it in the trash can. We aren't just talking about people studying in foreign countries there are people starving here, in your state, in your town, on your street.

    How do we change it?

    1. Many schools have protocols about food and not allowing food to leave the cafeteria, even if it's food you brought in.
      They use to allow the kids here to choose what they wanted on their trays. Now they HAVE to take XYZ if they buy a lunch, even if they don't want one of those items, which leads to more waste. It's insanity!

  4. Ok pork fajitas tonight from left over pork roast, 2 onions, i green pepper(both of these under $1 total) free taco seasoning and salsa, left over soft shells dated from use by Jan 13th arg! cheese a few spoons of sour cream, dinner and lunch for a friend tomorrow under $3!A big Yea!

  5. I would like to watch this. Granted, I only skimmed your post (I will leave it on my screen and read every word later - it's like a treat waiting for me when I do that) but I'd like to comment that I agree with you about the 9-15% rule or whatever such BS that was. Incomes vary wildly - what - are billionaires supposed to eat an entire town's worth of food each month? And semi-employed people are supposed to eat just saltines?

    One thing that makes my skin crawl is food service. I'm aware that every restaurant (or cafeteria or whatever mass food trough we're talking about) makes scads of food daily and they can't possibly calibrate their cooking to what will be purchased. So you know they have to dump entire landfills of food routinely. There's the true crime and the shame, in my opinion.

    1. Some restaurants try to ease the amount of waste by connecting with soup kitchens and food banks, but more and more towns are passing ordinances against this, thinking they are protecting the public from contamination and disease. It's just more government taking power away from the citizens in my book.

  6. Did you mention also how much money, time, effort and agricultural resources are wasted on producing the food in the first place? Only to be thrown away? The land that has to be tilled, the machinery, the gas, the oil, the electricity, the human employees to harvest the crops, feed the animals, slaughter them, truck them to markets, ship them all over the goes on and on about how much energy and the earth resources that are simply wasted away.
    I NEVER THROW FOOD AWAY! IT'S AGAINST MY LIFE RELIGION. Sour milk can be baked in a cake. Fruits can be frozen or made into jams. Leftover meats can be baked in pot pies. The only thing that is in my kitchen garbage can, is well, kitchen garbage. I even make vegetable broths out of vegetable peelings, chicken soup out of bones.
    Here's an image I put in my mind whenever I think of tossing food away: I think of all those poor Holocaust victims, especially the starving children, who would have eaten anything to stay alive. Put that image in your brain and you will NEVER toss food away ever again.

    1. We as a culture are mostly removed from our food sources. Kids grow up thinking chickens come breaded and in nugget form, have no clue how milk gets out of the cow and into their plastic bottles.
      If we had to do/experience the things necessary to feed ourselves at the basic level, like dealing with manuring the land, worn composting, dealing with feed lot "lagoons", pesticides, fishing and slaughtering, many of us couldn't handle it.

  7. I seriously can't remember the last time I threw away any food that had gone past when it could safely be eaten. I can safely say that my food waste would have to be under $20 for the YEAR.

    I've perfected the art of rolling little bits of leftovers into another meal. I either keep things in the refrigerator for just a couple days and come up with a new way to use them, or put in freezer. I've started adding little spoonfuls of stuff to a container which then becomes a "mystery" soup. Some brown rice and steamed broccoli and carrots can create a new meal out of just about any leftovers. Lots of things can be chopped up very finely and added to spaghetti sauces, stir fries, or just about anything.

    I've started keeping citrus peelings, slicing them very thinly, dehydrating and saving to use in recipes or to grind with salt, pepper and rosemary for a meat rub. One evening when I was slicing radishes for a salad I ran in and looked on internet to make sure the leaves were safe to eat, and we ended up having them chopped in our salad.

    1. You are way ahead of me FD. I have never thought of saving citrus peelings before, other than for making candied orange peels. I'll have to try this one, thanks!

  8. There are some of us that will never ever be able to turn a soup into a sauce. I'm being difficult this morning. But it is a fact in our house.
    This is nuts and disgusting. I think that the nut job planner has helped a few people that I know into the poor house.
    To me, the 9%-15% seems a bit vague. I don't know. I think the government put out what people are spending on groceries a while ago and while I don't trust anything the government puts out-it seemed to make more sense. Well there is something that I have never said before.

    1. This is a first for you Sonya Ann.....the govt. making more sense than ANYTHING!lolz

  9. What shocks me sluggy is that most people don't know how to cook. Now I am all for convenience but really? You can't boil macaroni make a white sauce and add cheese? Or cut up a salad, or a watermelon? People can really cut their food bills if they just cook!

    1. Even just replacing a few convenience foods from your menus and making them yourself would save substantial amounts of $. I have seen people in the grocery store buy pre-cut up veggies/fruits, salad from the salad bar, rotisserie chicken, store baked pizza. How hard is it to cut some celery or apples, compile your own salad fixings, grab a raw chicken or pizza supplies and shove it in your own oven?

  10. We're at just below 6% of our net income, so below the total, but as you mention, our salaries are high, so I don't feel like we need to have some giant grocery budget as a result. Our dining out is very, very limited, because we'd rather spend the money on fresh produce.

    I'm awesome about freezing things, leftovers, repurposing dishes, etc. A few areas we can still improve on - 1) food habits of children vary wildly. I'll put a portion on someone's plate one day & they'll eat it all. The next day? They'll eat 1/3 of it. I try to save what I can, but in the winter/flu/germ season, I tend to toss it rather than risk getting someone sick who will see leftovers in the fridge & grab it for a meal.

    2) I frequently freeze leftovers in lunch sized-portions for myself. However, I always eat "fresh" leftovers first. Depending on the week, sometimes the frozen leftovers wait for several weeks or a month & then I'm not as interested in them. Need a better system.

    1. Figuring out how much to make is very difficult when you have kids, I know. Even non-picky kids who eat from a wide variety of foods. No accounting for those pesky growth

  11. We live on a lower income, so a high percentage of our income goes towards food.. but at $180/week for a family of 6, I hardly think that's a "high" number with the food costs being fairly high in Canada. I buy 'real' food and try hard not to waste, I do need to really crack down on the kids as they're the worst for not finishing meals, or "wanting" to eat their leftovers. Grr!!

  12. I did really well in January because of Carla's challenge. I made a menu plan and it really helped. Watching this just inspires me to sit down and menu plan again. I need to make it a habit. I can't believe what a difference it makes. For example, I uses to buy lettuce every week without any plan for it. When I menu plan, I know whether I really need to buy it or not.
    Sluggy - I have been a follower for quite a while. I really like your blog.

  13. We don't even spend $350 a month for food. We sure couldn't throw that much out. We never throw out leftovers. They are saved for another meal. Neither Hubby nor I can stand food waste.


Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment.
All Anonymous commentors will be deleted.
Please include your name in your comment, or choose the 'Name' option and put your name or whatever you call yourself, in the box. Thank you.

Though I moderate it's partly to keep trolls at bay but also partly so that I read every comment. I don't often respond to comments so if you need me to answer you please write me at my email addy posted on my "About Me" page, linked on the side bar.