Wasting food is one of the things that drives me up-a-wall nuts. I mean it makes my skin crawl. I inherited this from my mother, I think. She would, and still is, ashamed when food gets wasted. I feel likewise. It’s not a nice feelings knowing that you could have eaten it but somehow missed the mark. Generally food gets lost in the fridge. That sounds silly I know, it’s only a few cubic feet of space. But there are so many bins, compartments, shelves, and cubbies. It’s hard to keep track of everything.
If you’re like me there’s all manner of stuff in your fridge. I have reusable containers all over my fridge. Simple syrup, homemade coffee syrup, veggies, chicken, homemade caramel, cheese, left-overs, desserts, etc…the list goes on and on and on. It’s stuffed. I sometimes can’t see a carton of milk that’s in the fridge and go out and buy a duplicate I didn’t need. That’s a full fridge. I’ve pared and purged my possessions down to a minimal level at this point. But my fridge still looks like I’m hanging on to the notion that the world might end tomorrow (and it might – you never know – it would be nice to have a few slices of leftover bacon hanging around if that asteroid slams into the Earth’s crust somewhere – ya know?)
But here’s the rub. Collectively, we as consumers are responsible for more wasted food than farmers, grocery stores, or any other part of the food supply chain. That’s staggering. The average American today wastes 50 percent more food than 40 years ago. Ouch. The Queen is not amused. Just look for yourself.
That lady is totally not amused. The UK recently turned out a program that simply made consumers aware of what they were throwing out and how much it was costing them. The net result? An 18% drop in food waste. That’s impressive for what’s little more than a PSA campaign. So what are we throwing away? Check out this little infographic from the USDA.
There are some mighty expensive items on that list. Cheese ain’t cheap. Neither is fish, or any protein for that matter.
The average American family of four throws out an estimated $130 to $175 in uneaten or spoiled food every month. That’s a lot of food heading out the door. You could make a hell of a dent in your credit card payments with that every month. So what to do about it? Perhaps you just need an “eat me first box” in your fridge.
Yuka at the Clossette blog writes, a fridge triage box is a behavior modification system (in all actuality – just a bright green shoebox with a sign on it) that makes it hard to ignore what food is going to go bad first. Especially because it’s green. And you know – the giant sign. What a great idea though. Put it right in front of your face – “Hey stupid – this is going bad soon – eat it!” No better way to make sure nothing ends up in the trash uneaten. This is a free money – a grand or more in your pocket every year. $150 a month is enough to finance a cheap used car. That’s some real coin.
All you need is a shoe box and a big sign that’s hard to ignore. Place items that are heading toward the end of their useful life into the box. And then make sure that you look at that box first before you head anywhere else in the fridge. Making yourself a snack? Use something from the box. Making dinner? Do likewise. You’ll be saving yourself money everyday and keeping the landfill a bit less cluttered from your waste. I just made mine this evening and I’m already finding it’s keeping my attention and making me think about what I’m making. It’s even informing what I buy at the store. “Do I need all this?? Will I use it all by the time it goes bad?” It’s amazing what one little shoe box can accomplish.