BOSTON (CBS) – There is a great commercial for Ziploc bags. It has a man grilling burgers and he flips one backwards into his open trash, then talks about how much food the average family wastes! Of course he wants us to use his product so we don’t waste food.

Food is a big household expense. Ranks up there with mortgage and car payments. It’s great that you save money when you shop, but what happens to the food once you get it home? If you don’t use it and you end up throwing it out, you’ve really not saved those dollars.

According to an article in the New York Times, Americans waste an astounding amount of food, over 25% of the food available for consumption, and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants, cafeterias and in our kitchens.

Part of the blame on the waste we see in our kitchens is the packaging of foods today. The giant sizes! You get a membership at one of the giant warehouse stores and everything is super-sized. We’re seduced into thinking we are saving money by buying the larger quantity. If you throw it away because it’s gone stale or expires, you really haven’t saved anything.

If you are spending $5,000 a year for groceries and waste 25% that’s $1,250 annually! That is serious money! It does add up quickly.

Go through your refrigerator often so you know what’s there and plan to use the ingredients in meals. Cook up the chicken or hamburg and have it ready for spaghetti sauce or tacos.

Check the expiration dates on your groceries. Milk will smell sour so you know it’s bad, but what about those prepackaged foods? The prepared meats or mashed potatoes. Only buy what you are going to use. The temptation is buy them when they are on sale so you have them.

Most fresh produce will spoil quickly. The ten pound bag of potatoes, the box of clementines or the giant sack of oranges from Florida may all seem like a bargain at the time you are buying them but unless you are going to use them up in the next two weeks you will be throwing them out in 3 weeks.

Dishwasher detergent, toothpaste and deodorant should not be bought in huge quantities for they lose their potency sitting on your shelf. Spices lose their zip over time. Buy the small jars. Date the jars when you open them. Bread has a shelf life even in your freezer.

Don’t forget those doggie bags you so righteously brought home to have for lunch the next day. Mark them with the contents, date, and take them to work for lunch.


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