Are you wasting food? According to the USDA, the average American household forfeits $371 a year in groceries sent straight to the garbage! Consumers actually waste $160 billion per year, totaling 30 to 40 percent of the food supply nationwide. At a time when 4 in 10 Americans report that they do not have an extra $400 to cover an emergency expense without selling personal property, this hidden area of our budgets is more crucial than ever to family financial security.
But why is food waste such a common problem? Experts say we often dispose of food early because of perceived spoilage from reading conservative expiration dates. In cases of real spoilage, many people are not aware that the arrangement of foods in the fridge can actually affect the shelf life of everything stored together. Some fruits and vegetables emit gasses that can spoil the surrounding produce! Experts recommend storing tomatoes and bananas separately in the closed bottom bin to minimize this hidden accelerator.
The EPA suggests several strategies to combat the issue of home food waste. First, prepare at least some easily spoiled items immediately after your grocery trip. Organizing your refrigerator to display perishables in the front will also encourage family consumption of foods in the right order. Additionally, leftovers can be saved to create a classic American dish that has gone out of style in the age of quick convenience foods — casseroles! Busy lifestyles require mindfulness to recognize patterns and modify habits, but a few small changes can make all the difference in your yearly budget. Happy sorting!