The Cost of Household Food Waste

As consumers we rarely eat all of the food we buy, and most of us probably don’t realize the monetary cost of what we throw way. According to the United Nations,  North American and European countries waste 209-253 pounds of food each year per person.  This equates to roughly 20 pounds month at a cost of $23-48 (again, per person) (National Resources Defense Council). As my dad always says to get me to save money, “think of what that would accumulate over time in a mutual fund with compounded interest!”

There are several easy ways that we use to reduce our waste and save money individually, including buying less food more often, eating smaller portions at restaurants and using doggy bags, storing food tupperware and freezing it, etc. Despite these options, time and time again households around the world run into this dilemma: having a bunch of random ingredients in the fridge that are about to reach their expiration date and no idea how to combine them into one appetizing dish. We become overwhelmed and option paralysis ensues, forcing us to only eat some of our leftovers, or just give up altogether and order takeout.

When I’m faced with this dilemma, I usually take everything about to reach it’s expiration date in my fridge and make nachos. If I don’t feel like nachos, I do what Mary Kate and Ashley Olson do: make pizza.

Luckily for those who are less adventurous, Love Food Hate Waste is a cool website that provides creative recipes to utilize these leftover ingredients and make tasty dishes. Visitors to the site can also offer their own suggestions!

Also, according the NRDC, most Americans probably do not know that “sell by” and “use by” dates on food products are  not Federally regulated and are actually just suggestions of the best time to eat the food. The USDA provides a handy freezing and cooking guide for safely consuming food when it has reached its “sell by” or “use by” dates.

***Have a favorite food saving recipe you’d like to share? Post a comment! 



2 thoughts on “The Cost of Household Food Waste

  1. @haikupiec says:

    This is something that we work on a lot in my house. I HATE to waste food. has a a search by ingredients feature. Handy for using those random items left in your fridge or pantry. (Or when someone–not naming names–gets overzealous buying black beans or fresh ginger.) There are some great strategies to keep your produce fresher longer:

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