How to make the most of your food budget – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
With rising grocery prices, consumers are looking for ways to save money, including identifying and reducing food waste at home.
Read on for expert advice on ways to combat food waste in your kitchen.
“I DID NOT THINK THEY WILL CONTINUE TO GO UP”
When we first caught up with mom-of-three Teia Collier last May, she noticed that grocery store prices had risen during the pandemic.
“I didn’t think they were going to keep going up,” Collier said.
“I actually thought that as soon as we start to come out of this three-year cycle that we were in, which won’t be named, it would start to come down,” Collier continued. “How it looks, it’s probably going to stay here for a while.”
Collier writes about budgeting on her DallasSingleMom.com blog.
In her own home, Collier said she has stepped up her efforts to avoid wasting food – starting with the Sunday night roast chicken that eventually turns into bone broth.
“What are you doing with that?” You can make soup, you can make the base for enchiladas, you can make whatever good stuff you want to make next. That way you turn that meal into two or three,” Collier explained.
She also reuses small amounts of scraps and creates “grazing boards” for her family.
“There are fruit snacks and little cookies or pretzels and bread, a little mustard, a little barbecue sauce,” Collier said. “You have half a sausage, you cut it into slices.”
“Take those extra five minutes to have it nicely decorated on a plate. You feel like you’ve had an experience. It’s fun,” Collier added.
FOOD WASTE COSTS FAMILIES
The USDA estimates that 30-40% of the total US food supply is wasted. According to a USDA study, food waste costs the average family of four $1,500 per year.
“The majority of municipal solid waste, which is in a landfill, the largest percentage is food,” said Dr. Jenna Anding, professor and extension specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Dr. Anding points to several factors, including confusion over best before or sell-by dates on food labels.
“The only food that needs to have a date is formula. All other dates are given by the manufacturer and it’s really to make sure we’re consuming this food at its optimum quality,” Dr Anding explained.
Free apps like the USDA Food Keeper can tell you how long certain foods last — provided you store the foods properly.
Evaluate foods before eating them to make sure they are still safe to eat and have not spoiled.
You can read more about dates on food products here.
STORAGE OF FOOD TO EXTEND FRESHNESS
Consumers can assess how they store food. For example, some ripening fruits produce greater amounts of ethylene gas which can impact other foods.
Consumers can also consider their habits and how they plan their meals. For example, how much food do you throw away because you planned to cook, but life got in the way?
“We forget Susie has football practice or Bobby has baseball practice,” Dr. Anding said. “Most of us eat one or two meals a week. So, let’s cut to the chase and plan it.
You can start your own food waste diary by noting what food you throw away, how much, why it was thrown away, and the value of the food. Use this information to assess how much food your family is actually wasting.
HOW MUCH DO YOU SPEND ON “EXTRA SHOP?”
Collier said she realized she spent more money when shopping in person.
“I call it ‘extra shop’ because it’s anything that’s not on my list but smells good when I walk in,” Collier said.
Collier said ordering groceries online saved her from spending money on food her family didn’t eat.
“It saves me hundreds of dollars a month just that I don’t set foot [in the store] going to indulge in stuff,” Collier said.
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