Chit Chat

How much food do you throw away?

Slight spinoff from the cleaning/fridge posts from last week--I'm curious how much uneaten food you all throw away on a weekly basis.  I feel like FI and I are terrible at this and I'm really working hard to get us to get better.  Each week when I clean out the fridge and pantry after grocery shopping, I'd say about 2-4 items wind up in the trash (e.g. an expired yogurt, tub of leftover veggies from dinner, stale crackers, package of protein that's gone bad because we didn't get around to cooking or freezing it in time, etc.)  I meal plan for the week and send FI shopping each weekend with a grocery list, but sometimes our plans change or a recipe makes more than I anticipated and we wind up with uneaten food.  

We've gotten better about this since FI stopped buying "extras" that were not on the grocery list.  He used to come home with, for example, 8 yogurts when they were on sale, even though we already had 6 in the fridge and the two of us go through maybe 2-4 yogurts a week at most.  But it's still something that we struggle with and that makes me feel guilty, and I'm trying to get better.

So am I really as bad as I think we are or is our "waste" rate more typical than I realize?  How much food waste is inevitable?  What tips and tricks do you use to minimize it?
«1

Re: How much food do you throw away?

  • Ugghh, I hate wasting food.  I feel terrible about it!  A lot of our waste is leftovers that we have good intentions of eating, then never do.  DH is also terrible with going to places like Costco and finding something that he really, really wants then never eating it.  Now, if we go to Costco I see if my mom or MIL want a portion of what we get.  If it's freezeable, I go that route.  I find myself going to the grocery store often, because even though I try, I still suck at meal planning, and because there ends up being less waste if I just get stuff for dinner the day of.  I know that's an awful system though!! 
  • blabla89blabla89 Atlanta member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    I'm not sure how much I throw away, but I'm bad about getting halfway through my yogurt or oatmeal (or something else that I can't just put back in the office fridge and save for later) and deciding that I don't feel like eating after all. Or letting things get pushed to the back of the fridge/freezer so that I forget about them until they're past the date.

    I'm trying to get better about keeping the refrigerator organized, since I think that's my biggest issue.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker



  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I'm not sure.  But we are getting better.   I have a better food saver now.  So if somethings are getting close to being old I vacuum and put them into the freezer. Things like  avocados last longer vacuum sealed too.  

    We also cut down what we are buying.  We make more lists and stick to them.  

    DH is actually making meatloaf tonight and chicken parmesan tomorrow for me to freeze for later use.   











    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • hicocohicoco Chicago member
    100 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    A lot. I don't eat leftovers and FI is VERY picky. We've been trying to be a lot better about it. FI is the only one who eats lunch meat, for example, so I try to only buy a few slices because when I buy like 1/3 lb, he only eats a few and then we dump the rest and it makes me so mad!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    This is a struggle in our house. I used to plan for making 5 dinners a week- Sunday through Thursday with the understanding that we'd likely go out or forage Friday and Saturday. Between The Kid's picky eating and DH's class/work schedule, I cook dinner for 3 each of those nights but have no idea who will eat when. DH rarely eats leftovers and The Kid will pick out portions of the leftovers (for instance, he ate the beef out of the leftover beef bourgignon and left everything else- jerk!). I'll pack leftovers for lunch but also buy food for my own lunches. I find that if I don't have leftovers, I buy-- and we're trying to be better about spending.

    I try not to throw a lot away but end up with a ton in the freezer. If dinner doesn't happen one night (too many leftover to justify cooking), the meat I buy goes in the freezer. We throw away most parsley and cilantro as I'll use a handful or two but not all. A gallon of milk either goes in 2 days or gets tossed. Pretty much all restaurant leftovers get tossed (excluding Chinese and pizza).

    We have lots of issues with stale food as well. The Kid doesn't reseal anything so I'll find that a box of cereal that I thought was unopened is stale. No cracker is safe. I've mostly stopped buying these products because he'll eat 2 crackers then leave the box open for days. I feel like we're all punished but I hate shelling out money for stuff that becomes garbage. Single serving packages seem expensive -- and he'll sometimes eat a box of them at a time anyway. The joys of a teen...

    I am good about making use of random "ends" though. I make stock out of chicken or beef bones regularly. I toss them in a bag in the freezer and will make a batch whenever I have enough bones saved. I also make vegetable stock out of vegetables ends. I won't save the rotten stuff but if something's not pretty or wilted, it goes into one of my freezer bags. Mine all tend to be mushroom-y as I hate throwing away woody stems of mushrooms.

    Lots of things also get cooked up at the last minute and frozen. I'll always cook up the ground beef (usually with onion) before freezing it because it's easier to use that way. Leftover veggies frequently get sauteed. Usually the end up in the freezer, sometimes tossed randomly into recipes. Most things taste good in scrambled eggs so I do that a lot.

    This is a big issue for us but I'm working hard to get better.
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • labrolabro Hotlanta member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    Not a lot I think. We have a compost bucket that we use for food scraps (banana peels, coffee grounds, etc.) but we don't have much actual wasted food. This week we tossed a whole onion because it had gotten moldy, and I have to toss some kale leaves, but they don't count IMO because I picked them from my own garden. I try to make my shopping list around our meal plan and re-use the same ingredients in a single week.



  • larrygagalarrygaga Czechoslovakia member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    I find that making a really strict grocery list and going to the store more often and buying less helps a lot.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    image

  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I have to say, we've gotten pretty good at this. The trick I've found is to not over-buy. I used to go to the grocery store just once a week and buy all sorts of things to cook that week. And then we'd decide to go out to eat one night, or I wouldn't feel like cooking. Now I only buy things I know for sure I'm going to make. I hate throwing out food, and when things would go bad in the fridge, I would get so upset. So I can totally avoid that now by taking multiple trips to the grocery store. Thankfully it's right on my way home, so it's not a big inconveneince. 
    simcal18peachy13
  • Cookie PusherCookie Pusher Looking over your shoulder member
    Ninth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Very, very little. I buy our meat in bulk and repack it in two-serving sizes to put in the freezer (usually with marinade in the bag to save time later). I'll buy vegetables with longer shelf-life once a week (potatoes, onions, things like that), and shop for leafy greens as I need them. I cook only enough for us to eat at dinner and any leftovers we have either go to work with me the next day or I eat it for dinner the next time DH has a dinner meeting (two or three times a week, usually).
    ~*~*~*~*~

  • I very rarely throw away ingredients as I shop pretty carefully with a meal plan and a list.  Potatoes are my nemesis though, since it's so cheap to buy the larger bag versus individual potatoes, and the potatoes in the bag are smaller sizes that I like, but they usually sprout before I get through the whole thing.  However, I do throw away leftovers.  I like to make new recipes all the time and sometimes they don't turn out great... they're fine for one meal but after that I don't want to eat the rest... especially a problem when FI is traveling for work 4-5 days a week.  It's just me left to eat all that food.

    Married 9.12.15
    image
  • littlepeplittlepep South Carolina member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    We've been getting better at this. We try to only buy what we will actually cook that week. FI loves taking leftover for lunch, which is great because I don't really like leftovers. 

    We are still bad about buying veggies/salad and then not finishing it before it goes bad. That's probably the worst for us, but we're trying to be more careful. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    image
  • Not much, but we're pretty "routine" eaters. For example, I eat a yogurt every day for breakfast, so I buy 7 each week. FI eats a Kind bar every work day, so I buy 5 and so on.

    Dinner wise, I meal plan. I cook on Monday and Wednesday, and we eat the left overs Tuesday and Thursday nights. Weekends are usually take out, out to eat, or if I cook I just run to the store that day.

    Doing that really cuts down on waste. We don't mind eating the leftovers the next night though, and it really makes cooking less of a chore for me when I get home from work if I only have to do it twice. The time I save on left over nights, I make my gym time.
  • This generally happens when I get over-ambitious at the grocery store or I go shopping hungry. Once I figured out the pattern, I got a whole lot better about it.

    Realistically, it's just the two of us and we don't need a ton of food. We generally buy our lunches at work and grab a bar or something for breakfast. And we go out at least once a week, so we're really looking at 5-6 meals. For two people, that's not a lot of food.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
    [Deleted User]
  • Milk. I throw away A LOT of milk. Most days I basically only put it in my morning coffee. I really should just buy smaller bottles, but I hate not having milk when I want it for some other reason (like the occasional recipe, hot chocolate, bowl of cereal, milk w/ cookies, etc).
  • We throw away a ton, and it's ALL me. I always have great intentions of waking up early and making a fried egg with avocado for breakfast, packing a salad for lunch, eating my leftovers for dinner when H's not home, bringing grapes or cottage cheese to work as a snack... and inevitably at the end of the week I'm throwing out an avocado, a bag of salad, a takeout container of leftovers, a bag of grapes and 3/4 container of cottage cheese. I SUCK. H is VERY much a creature of routine and eats the same things every week, and only buys those things, where I'm much more impulsive and get bored/swayed by "what I feel like eating" way too much. I'm trying to get better at it, even though sometimes that means buying much less produce at our weekly Sunday shopping trip and stopping on the way home for whatever we need to complete dinner that night. Honestly I'm really looking forward to getting a new fridge at the new house... we're getting the French door/freezer on the bottom kind so I'm hoping having the crisper drawers higher up (and clear) will make me less likely to forget what's in there. We'll see how that goes.

    image
    image
    [Deleted User]
  • I have to say, we've gotten pretty good at this. The trick I've found is to not over-buy. I used to go to the grocery store just once a week and buy all sorts of things to cook that week. And then we'd decide to go out to eat one night, or I wouldn't feel like cooking. Now I only buy things I know for sure I'm going to make. I hate throwing out food, and when things would go bad in the fridge, I would get so upset. So I can totally avoid that now by taking multiple trips to the grocery store. Thankfully it's right on my way home, so it's not a big inconveneince. 

    I feel like this is part of our problem.  Neither of us have a grocery store on our way home from work, so we do one big grocery trip on the weekend instead of several smaller trips.  But there is a Wegman's opening soon on FI's way home from work (woo hoo!!!) so maybe that will change in the near cuture.
  • We've gotten pretty good with this. During lunch time every Monday we sit down together and plan out what we want to make for dinner that week. We usually plan 4 dinners (rather than 5) in case we end up with extra leftovers or end up going out one night. 

    Since we go home for lunch every day, we try to always eat leftovers for lunch to save money and so that food doesn't go to waste. 

    If we don't end up making all 4 dinners during the week, we'll make 1 of them for lunch on Saturday or something so the ingredients still get used. 

    I also try to get creative with ingredients or "re-purpose" the ones that don't get used up. Like last week, I made pitas with chicken, hummus and veggies. Then I took the leftover veggies and threw them in a salad that we had as a side with our pork chops so they didn't go bad. (So when we meal plan, I also try to look at what ingredients can carry over to other meals.)

    Leftover diced onions and tomatoes from brats? Make taco dip. Sutff like that. So we rarely throw out produce these days. 

    However, we still sometimes throw out leftovers (usually about 1 thing per week). It usually happens if one of us says, "Hey I want a giant cheeseburger for lunch instead of the leftover talapia!" And then the talapia sits there for a few extra days, and then I feel like it's too old to eat anymore. 
    image
  • This generally happens when I get over-ambitious at the grocery store or I go shopping hungry. Once I figured out the pattern, I got a whole lot better about it.


    Realistically, it's just the two of us and we don't need a ton of food. We generally buy our lunches at work and grab a bar or something for breakfast. And we go out at least once a week, so we're really looking at 5-6 meals. For two people, that's not a lot of food.
    FI and I have almost exactly the same eating pattern, and you're right that we just don't need to buy that much food for the week.  I've gotten into a similar cooking pattern as @cgss11--I cook Monday/Wednesday, we eat leftovers Tuesday/Thursday, and Friday-Sunday we either eat out or pick up something during the day to cook.  I think part of the problem for a while was that FI was just not believing that we only needed the food on the list, so he was picking up more because it didn't seem like enough to him.  Now that he's seen some of the waste and the packed freezer, that's changing.
  • peachy13peachy13 in my cubicle, doing very important work member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    It took a while but we're pretty good now about using everything. Our system is planning out dinner meals Sun-Thurs (we'll eat out Fri and Sat) and going to the grocery store Sunday morning to buy everything we need for the week. Here and there we might toss a refrigerated meat in the freezer if we don't end up using it, and sometimes a poor broccoli or onion may get tossed if they get yucky, but we're usually pretty good. 

    Obvious flaw to our plan though is that if you wake up hurting Sunday morning before our grocery trip, you're SOL since our fridge is totally bare.
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers


  • We hardly throw away any food. I do all the grocery shopping because DH can't stick to a list, so I think this helps. We meal plan and we both take leftovers to work for lunch, so there's really minimal food being tossed.

    We freeze a lot of stuff though so that instead of risking not cooking some meat, we just thaw it out when we know we will use it.

    Ditto PP who said their fridge is empty on Sundays - we usually go out for breakfast for that very reason :)
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    peachy13
  • peachy13peachy13 in my cubicle, doing very important work member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer

    tcnoble said:

    We hardly throw away any food. I do all the grocery shopping because DH can't stick to a list, so I think this helps. We meal plan and we both take leftovers to work for lunch, so there's really minimal food being tossed.


    We freeze a lot of stuff though so that instead of risking not cooking some meat, we just thaw it out when we know we will use it.

    Ditto PP who said their fridge is empty on Sundays - we usually go out for breakfast for that very reason :)
    This is why we keep a bag of frozen tater tots in the freezer and a package of bacon. Plus we try to keep eggs. 

    Wake up Sunday (hungover or not, whatever) make the tots, cook the bacon, saute leftover veggies in the bacon fat, cook an egg or two in the bacon fat, pile it all together, top with cheese. Breakfast, hangover cure, avoiding having to get dressed and go out for food. 
    Welp, gotta go out and buy tater tots and bacon now. thanks for the tip!
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers


    novella1186
  • I throw out way more than I'm comfortable admitting.  It's a combination of lack of energy, small kitchen that makes cooking from scratch more frustrating than rewarding, and busy schedule.  I always intend to pack my lunch, but sadly it's usually all I can do to get to work on time as it is without adding packing a lunch.  I can usually manage one or two days in a row, but that's it.  Plus, some evenings I'm not even home until anywhere from 8-10 pm.  If I can't toss it into a microwave or eat it straight from the fridge/cabinet, it's not happening these days.

    But I always have good intentions, which is how I end up in this mess.  I need to just admit that until life is slightly less crazy, I'm strictly a canned soup, lunchmeat, cheese, and crackers gal.  Add a bag of oranges so I don't get scurvy and I'm set.  Even this morning, I was thinking I need to clean out the fridge, and it's probably at least a bag full (though in my defense, I haven't done a good condiment sweep in awhile, so that will contribute greatly). 
  • NowIamMrsKleinNowIamMrsKlein Cold Canadian North (British Columbia) member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    We used to be terrible. Both of us were so used to shopping for 1, that when we moved in together we would buy way to much food and it would go to waste.

    Since we started meal planning and then grocery shopping for the week based on the meal plan we have cut down quite a bit.

    Helps that FI is home a lot now because he eats the left overs for lunch. When work is busy for him then a lot of left overs pile up because I'll take a fresh salad to work for lunch and he will get free lunch at whatever place he's flying to that day. We havent yet mastered the cooking the correct amount of food to make sure there is nothing left over.
    image
  • ElcaBElcaB member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I HATE wasting food! Part of it comes from growing up with a father who never allowed food waste. Ever. 

    He was always encouraging us to take small servings with the idea that we could always go back for more but couldn't put food on our plates back into the serving dishes. Food simply did not get thrown away. Stale chips got sprinkled onto casseroles, meat refrigerated a few days past most people's comfort levels got made into soup. 

    I learned/inherited the "we don't waste food" thing, so DH & I rarely do. Occasionally something will go past the date, but either we still eat it (depending on what is is) or DH has to hear a lecture on food waste from me. He's much worse about it than I am. 
    image
  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I think the things we throw out the most are condiments that have gone bad. Like everyone else, leftovers might get thrown out, depending on what it is. Occasionally, we might not use the milk fast enough.

    My husband says I'm wasteful, but i don't think I'm too bad. He works at night, so he only eats dinner 2x a week at home, and we eat everything we make for two of us. It's harder when I'm only cooking for myself. Things like kraft Mac and cheese, isn't really good as left overs, so the rest get thrown out if he's not home. That sort of thing.
    image
    image

    image


  • mrscomposermrscomposer Mani-snow-ba member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary First Answer

    We're generally pretty good - I'm fairly good at eyeballing amounts, so we only have one day of leftovers (which J eats for lunch) if any at all.  We don't have a microwave, so any leftovers we do have are reheated on the stovetop.

    I'm a routine lunch eater, too, so it's really easy for me to buy a week's worth of lunches at a time and do them all up in a prep day before I go back to work.

    Stirfrys and fajitas are staples in our house, which means a little meat and a lot of veggies.  Easy to buy, and easy to get rid of.

    **The OMH formerly known as jsangel1018**
  • Milk. I throw away A LOT of milk. Most days I basically only put it in my morning coffee. I really should just buy smaller bottles, but I hate not having milk when I want it for some other reason (like the occasional recipe, hot chocolate, bowl of cereal, milk w/ cookies, etc).

    Try UHT milk! It's pasteurized at an Ultra High Temperature, meaning that it doesn't need to be refrigerated before being opened and lasts an astonishingly long time opened in the fridge (like up to a month). I don't really drink milk but I do like it on my tea and it drives me crazy when I want to bake or make pancakes or whatever and there's no milk. UHT is perfect - I usually keep a couple boxes in the pantry and they're good for months. You could drink it straight if you wanted, it tastes the same. They're often in the baking aisle. I like parmalat or Hershey brand.
  • We're in the middle.  We throw out a decent chunk of leftovers (I do eat them for lunch, but we still have too many), or H will ask me to buy yogurt and then he won't crave it again for weeks, and I always buy too many onions/potatoes- although it's ridiculous a 5 lb bag is always on sale for less than 3 lbs loose.

    I'll have to try going back to organic or UHT milk.  We don't drink it so it's just for cooking and even buying it in pints or quarts it's hard to use enough before it turns.
  • I don't think I've ever thrown out condiments. My H threw out my mustard that expired n 2008 when I moved 2 years ago. Jerk, it tasted fine to me.

    image
    image
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards