A while back, I wrote about the issue of food waste in this country. It really is astonishing to think about how much perfectly good food is tossed in the trash in this day and age. We have access to more food than our mothers and their mothers had before us, and yet we’ve become one of the most wasteful generations of human beings there has ever been.
Our super-sized mentality is the reason why we buy things that end up going bad. Pushing that cart around the grocery store, stocking up on deals, and taking advantage of low prices on the food we don’t even need and likely won’t use before it goes bad. It leaves us with more food than we can store in our homes, fruit, and veggies rotting away in the crisper drawer (ew), and, often, less money in our grocery budgets for later on in the month when we’re desperate for some fresh produce.
There’s a simple solution to this food waste problem that would also help many other problems from stress and obesity to preventing disease and avoiding chemicals/ GMOs. We should simply approach shopping in a different way.
In many European countries, you head to the market in the morning and purchase what you need for that day’s meals. You go home, prepare it and eat it. The next day, you repeat.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to do exactly this because not all of us are down the street from a market and most of us work full-time jobs and don’t have the time or luxury to do this. But I would like you to consider this approach. Shop ‘til you drop when it comes to stocking up on staples and pantry items when they’re on sale but use the European approach when it comes to produce and fish.
Shopping with short-term goals in mind.
This is where menu planning comes in handy. I think you all know that I know a thing or two about menu planning!
Rather than making one or two big grocery shops a month where you end up buying way more than you need, why not plan out your meals (check out one of our products to help you—they even come with grocery lists!) on the weekend and shop for the ingredients once at the beginning of the week and once nearing the end of the week to stock up on fresh produce and meat? You can buy your meat all at once if you freeze what you won’t use up in four or five days, but you shouldn’t keep it in the fridge much longer than that. And same goes for fish. We all know how that smells when it’s not fresh. Yuck!
Avoid processed foods and packaged foods, and try to always choose seasonal, local, and organic whenever possible. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, check the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists and use that to help you make the best choices for your health, based on your budget.
Making more frequent trips to the market/grocery store and having a plan made in advance for the entire week means less waste (both food and money!)and less overindulging in the wrong kinds of foods!
I believe that if we all approached shopping in this way, we would almost effortlessly become a more healthful nation.
If you’ve been saying to yourself, “I don’t know what’s safe to eat anymore,” I think following this easy formula will simplify things for you. It will naturally change your diet to one of real, wholesome food, and you won’t even have to think about it again.
• Make a weekly meal plan
• Shop frequently for fresh produce and meat
• Skip the processed foods
• Choose local, seasonal, and organic produce whenever possible
Looks pretty simple when you put it that way, doesn’t it?
Do you have anything to add? Tell us here!
PS–You can receive delicious menus (complete with shopping lists!) delivered right to your email inbox by subscribing to Dinner Answers today!
I have been doing this for a while now, and it really does help reduce food waste. Life isn’t always predictable, and I’ve had my week’s menu plans thrown for a loop on too many occasions. I’ve found that keeping a few quick-fix meals on hand in the freezer (ones I can heat in a short time right from frozen) takes care of the sudden surprises most of the time, and if I plan on buying perishables twice a week I have much less food going bad in the fridge if I have a sudden change of meal plans and don’t use everything I had planned to. Additionally, by buying twice a week the perishables I want for the latter half of the week are fresher at the time I want them, and I have more fridge space for thawing or cooling items I’ve prepared ahead of time.
It doesn’t hurt that 2 of the 3 grocery stores I usually shop at are on my way home from the kids’ school (convenient!). I do my shopping right after dropping off the kids, when stores aren’t crowded — this also allows the rush hour traffic to dissipate before I have to head home again. And I’ve got my errands done with most of the day ahead to concentrate on other matters. Breaking the grocery shopping into two trips per week also means I’m in the store for a shorter period of time each trip, and I worry less about items I forgot to pick up, since they will usually wait the 2 or 3 days until the next trip. Benefits all around!
I’Italian and I appreciated this post.
I want to share the way I shop.
I live in a big city in the north of Italy. I work full time and I often have to travel for work, so I cannot shop day by day.
Every saturday morning (monday evening in sommer) there’s an organic market in a place near the city center, in which the farmers of this area sell their products.
Shopping there could require 1 h or more, since a lot of people go there to buy organic groceries, eat something in the open air and meet friends.
Fortunately, many farmers have an email address. I have picked out a great family of farmers, who has a good variety of vegetables, and I send them an email every week (thursday or friday) with a list of the vegetables and fruits that I want to buy.
They prepare a box with all I wrote and I pick it up every saturday. It’s so unexpensive and fast!! And I just buy what I need, I don’t have to buy more just because the supermarket only has big packages.
Every month or so, I must also ask by e-mail which products, they have, because they only have stagional products.
I think everybody and everywhere can do it: you just have to ask the email address or phone number of your favourite farmer or grocery shop and they’ll be glad to have a new devoted customer.
As you plan your weekly, you can just send an email, and if you have a smartphone you can do it everywhere and at every time.
It’s so easy!