If you make an effort to buy healthy food which is a) local, b) less processed and c) more naturally grown than the alternatives, you’ve probably noticed like I have that healthy food isn’t often the cheapest option. Especially when it comes to high quality meat, bread that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup and good stuff like that.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, because truly wholesome food is important to me…but I’m not made of money. I’ve seen a handful of articles online lately that discuss the subject, such as this one and this one. None of them have discussed my latest light bulb moment, so I thought I’d add my thoughts on the subject.
One leak in my own food budget strategy that could use some work relates to wasting food. I was cleaning out the fridge last week and tossed out a load of spoiled leftovers, a couple cucumbers that got soft, and a chunk of moldy cheese, among other things. When I was done, there was a sizable pile of food that I’d estimate was equivalent to at least three or four meals for Jon and myself.
Aside from the prospect of this food waste being bad for the environment, which is an entirely separate discussion, this pile of food has significant bearing on our home economics: it’s money right down the drain.
If I were to go through my pantry or my freezer, too, I’ll admit that I’m sure I would find a fair share of goods past their expiration there, too.
This is a stark contrast to the stories I’ve heard from my mom when she was growing up. Snitching food from the fridge wouldn’t go unnoticed at their house on the farm, because my grandma knew exactly how much food was there. Each ingredient was carefully planned to be included in that week’s meals, and she bought exactly enough to feed her eight hungry children.
My grandma and I live in different worlds. I’ll be the first to tell you mine is a first world problem. The issue I need to solve is taking abundance completely for granted. (And yes, I feel guilt for that.)
I don’t have ten mouths to feed, and I live in a dual income household that feeds exactly two people. But her stance on food inspires me to do better, particularly because every penny spent on food went to the nourishment of her family (or occasionally the cats, who ate leftovers nobody wanted)–not the garbage, like mine. If I’m going to go to the expense of buying better, more wholesome, local food, I can save money by not letting it go to waste.
My ideas on getting better involve meal planning, and going through the fridge/freezer/pantry more regularly to take stock of what we have, and more importantly, to work ingredients into the menu before they have the chance to spoil. Do you have any suggestions for me, or do you suffer from a similar opportunity to improve?