From freezer to food waste, how to save when shopping

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Groceries are a big part of the budget and of daily life.

But how much is the food that isn’t used costing you?

“If we’re wasting 40 percent for a family of four, that could be up to $300 a month,” said Lisa Martin, with the K-State Extension Office in Shawnee County. Martin, who specializes in talking to families and individuals about the best money saving practices, said the cost of wasted food can add up.

And by her estimate, it’s costing Kansans $3,600 a year.

So how can you keep your hard earned cash out of the trash?

Plan meals ahead of time, cook meals that will be eaten and think about what can be done with leftovers.

Martin uses the tips she dishes out. “Maybe a leftover that I could take in my lunch instead of eating out,” she said.

All of these are good in theory, but how can they be done in practice?

Martin said it’s important to look at the packaging. According to Martin, there is a difference between a “sell-by” date and an “expiration” date.

She said a sell by date is when the store needs to have product sold, but food can be good for several days after. She does not advocate eating expired food “for health safety reasons.”

Another way to avoid food spoiling is know how much space you have at home and taken a inventory of what you throw out.

“If you don’t have the freezer space then it’s probably better for you to buy a smaller package. There is still going to be less waste and you’re going to spend less money,” she said.

There are several websites to help you keep an eye on your food waste. But Martin says keeping a simple plan helps cut down on waste.

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