The 10 Groceries You’re Most Likely To Throw Away, and How To Stop Wasting That Money
You could be throwing away 1/4 of your grocery budget.
How much can you buy at the grocery store with $63? Milk, eggs, bread, and produce would definitely make it on the list, along with some proteins and even snacks. For the budget-savvy, $63 can go a long way. Why that number, you ask? A new poll conducted by OnePoll on behalf of HelloFresh, found that on average, Americans waste about $63 worth of weekly groceries in the form of food waste.
And if $63 doesn't seem like that much, that amount adds up over time. The average American spends nearly $3,000 a year on unused groceries, the survey found. Now think what that $3,000 could buy.
The poll found that on average, those who do grocery shopping for their household spend $248 on weekly groceries, and one in 10 claim that they spend even more—upwards of $500 a week. So why, and how, does over ¼ of that get thrown away?
Why Do We Waste So Much Food?
There are a few reasons that can explain why we end up wasting such a big percentage of our groceries and the budget that goes towards them. The HelloFresh poll revealed that a group of the respondents shared that when they make plans to cook a quarter of them "always" or "often" make more food than they're able to finish with the intention of having leftovers. They also shared that they've thrown food away simply because they didn't feel like eating it after purchasing it.
The chain of events for creating food waste can start before shoppers even get home. Nearly a fifth of the respondents admitted that they often overestimate how much food they will use when grocery shopping. Many shoppers who go grocery shopping also wind up regretting purchases; On average, respondents reported at least five food items each week that they wish they purchased in smaller quantities.
Finally, poll respondents shared that they are not confident they know the best ways to store foods to maximize freshness. So how can we avoid tossing out unused food?
To help consumers become more aware of what they're likely to waste, the poll included the top ten grocery items consumers are most likely to throw out. Here they are, along with tips to avoid waste and save money along the way.
What Are the Top Ten Wasted Foods in Home Kitchens?
A carrot's lifespan depends on how it's stored. Carrots are best stored in a perforated plastic bag with holes to allow for air flow in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Raw carrots will usually stay fresh for around 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator—just don't forget they're in there! If you find yourself with less-than-perfectly-fresh carrots, steam and freeze them for later use, or try pickling them.
Packages of meat are labeled by the butcher or grocery store with a 'Best By' date. As a consumer, it is important to look at these marked dates at the time of purchase to ensure you're able to use the meat in that time frame. If not, don't buy it. If you already purchased meat and your dinner plans change, air on the side of caution and store it in the freezer for later use; Ground beef will keep in the freezer for several months.
A dozen eggs is probably the item most frequently added to our grocery list, so much so that it becomes second nature. But before you reach for that carton, consider how many you need for your immediate use: Are you just making scrambled eggs for breakfast for the week or serving a crowd at a big weekend brunch?
More importantly, check your fridge before you leave for the grocery store so you don't end up accidentally doubling up on eggs. If you do buy more than you need, you can actually freeze eggs, but we also have thousands of egg-cellent recipes to get creative with your bounty.
We have all overestimated the amount of deli meat we needed at one time, and ended up with way too much in the refrigerator drawer. Deli meats are meant to be used fairly quickly after they are sliced and sold, so it's even more important to avoid overbuying. Rather than going for the prepackaged varieties, opt for fresh sliced at the deli counter—that way you can buy just as much as you need.
How do you plan to use your avocados? Do you need one or two for your avocado toast or are you whipping up a big batch of guacamole for a crowd? Avocados are expensive, so be thoughtful about how many you buy. Once an avocado is cut and is exposed to oxygen and can start to discolor quickly, which can turn some people off from eating it. Keep the flesh looking green and appetizing with a few easy tips for storage. End up with more than you can use? Freeze them, too (yes, you can freeze avocados!)
Bread is another staple item on grocery lists and it's easy to end up with more than you can use before it goes stale. Luckily bread freezes incredibly well, so you can also take advantage of a sale and pick up an extra loaf of ciabatta or a baguette to save for a later date. And, if you end up with stale bread, don't throw it away; Instead, use it to make something delicious.
Will your family really use up a gallon of milk before the expiration date? Do you already have one sitting in your fridge door? Milk is a common item to have in abundance simply because we're used to buying it on every trip to the store. Again, your freezer is your friend. Freezing milk is a game-changer for avoiding food and money waste.
Apples, Bananas, & Other Fruit
Bananas can spoil quickly with too much light and a warm environment. If the bananas were sold in a plastic bag, take them out of it and store in the open air on the counter in the kitchen. Frozen bananas are the ideal fruit to freeze and have on hand for whipping up a morning smoothie. Store apples in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator to make them last for months. Pre-cut fruit options like melon and pineapple are highly perishable, so buy and cut your own fruit to cut down on waste and save money.
The number one offender on the list of wasted foods is leafy greens. Storing greens correctly keeps them fresh for much longer, but when you can, buy whole leaf lettuce instead of bagged or boxed options. and choose. Finally, keep an eye out for recalls and don't purchase when there is an outbreak or cause for concern—romaine and bagged salad mixes are often on these lists.