Limiting Food Waste Can Save You $1500 a Year

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If you’re like the average American, around 20 percent of what you buy in the grocery store ends up in the trash instead of on your plate. You may not feel the impact on your wallet when you’re clearing out your fridge at the end of the week, but every piece of food you throw away eventually adds up. The USDA reports that the average amount of food wasted by a family of four accounts for roughly 2 million calories or $1500 a year. So if you’re looking for a way to reduce your monthly grocery budget, being smarter about the food you're wasting is a great place to start.

Making the most of your food is a practice that requires serious planning, which is why so many households fail to do it. In her new book, Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook, Dana Gunders, a senior scientist at the National Resources Defense Council, gives 85 tips for how to reduce food waste. A few of her ideas include learning to store food properly, shopping for just a few meals at a time, and trusting your judgment over expiration dates.

Another way to minimize food waste at home is to follow the lead of professional chefs. Because restaurants are required to produce full menus on limited budgets, most of them have an arsenal of tricks for making the most of ingredients that are already in stock. Instead of tossing out leftover chicken bones, chef Troy Guard of the TAG Restaurant Group tells Time Money that he uses them to make soup. He also recommends incorporating scraps like carrot peels, leftover rice, and mushroom stems into a tasty veggie burger. So next time you visit the supermarket, remember that a conservative grocery list can go a long way. 

[h/t: Time Money