As individuals, most of us try to follow a budget regardless of how much money we earn. We spend money on everyday essentials, such as food, shelter, and clothing, and save for larger luxuries, such as TVs, computers, or even holidays.
Whether you are supporting just yourself or your entire family, the cost of daily necessities often eats away at a large part of our budgets, often leaving very little at the end of the month for other purchases.
Around the world, it is suggested that the one area where we could all cut back on spending is food purchasing.
The Food Waste Issue
Approximately every year, 1.3 billion tons of food ends up as food waste. That is approximately one-third of all the food that is produced globally. Of this wasted food, approximately 45% is fruit and vegetable, 30% is cereal, 20% is dairy and 20% is meat. This begs the question: ‘Are we buying more food than we need?’
As we all know, food purchasing is one of the largest components of an individual’s or household’s budget. In the USA alone, it is estimated that over the past few decades, 20% of those who are in the lowest tax bracket spend between 28.8% to 42.6% of their income before tax on food. In comparison, here in the UK in 2016, the average household spent just 11% of their yearly budget on food.
Surprisingly, this number rose to 17% for those families in the lower-income threshold. Regardless of income, it is clear to see there is an obvious opportunity to save money when it comes to food shopping. Not only will this benefit individuals’ and households’ financially, but will save the environment in terms of the quantity of waste that is being generated.
Trying a service like $5 meal plan might be a great way to save on your monthly grocery bill. They send you meal plans weekly straight to your inbox so you are only purchasing what you actually need. This will help prevent you from overspending and stop you from wasting so much food.
Change What You Buy
The easiest thing you can do is to buy less food, and this can easily be achieved without making significant changes to your lifestyle. Buying locally grown fruit and vegetable, for instance, is another option. There are plenty of farmer’s markets and stands throughout the country, where you can buy fresh and local produce without the markups associated without supermarket transportation fees. This option is also more eco-friendly, as it cuts back on ‘food miles’-the distance food has to come from the farmer to your plate.
Another thing you can do is buy food similar in taste and texture, but with a longer expiry date. Although they may cost slightly more, over the long run you will save money as you will be making fewer purchases over time.
You could also change your eating habits, not only to help your finances but to improve your health.
One way to do this is to reduce your meat intake over the course of a week, as we have seen with the popular Meatless Monday trend. There are also many meat-free alternatives available on the market, including vegan and Quorn dishes, all of which provide the nutritional requirements to maintain your health.
Experimenting with new types of food can be fun and you may end up enjoying something you otherwise would not have thought of eating.
Grow Your Own
Alternatively, you can grow some of your own ingredients– maintaining a small patch or plot to grow your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs. This is becoming increasingly popular due to its low-cost and low-maintenance appeal. Composting goes hand-in-hand with this. Again, this is relatively easy and affordable to do – composting involves taking your food waste, breaking it down and converting it into nutrients that can be used as fertilizer. This puts your food waste into practical use and best of all is chemical-free.
Take a step back and look at the amount of food you are throwing away on a daily or weekly basis. Then associate that waste with its cost to identify how much money you are throwing away. It may be shocking but it’s the catalyst for change you need to reduce your weekly grocery spend. Changing your shopping habits will require a few adjustments at first and may take some time getting used too. Once in the swing of things, you will be happy you did, not just for your bank account but also for the environment.
Image Credit – U.S. Department of Agriculture
How do you limit your food waste?
What steps do you take to make your food last longer?