10 Tips To Reduce Your Food Waste

Slate.com has an interesting list of tips from readers to reduce food waste. As discussed previously in this blog, North Americans end up throwing a lot of food in the garbage, food they paid good money to buy. However, there is only one truly efficient way to ensure that you do not waste food: buy less and do not buy any more food until you have consumed what you already  have. Sure, it will require you to be creative, but having less food in the fridge will mean that you will see what you have and you will be forced to eat everything before you spend more money. This, in the long run, will mean less food waste and greater cost savings.

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Frugality here, frugality there, frugality everywhere

It has been a while since I posted, but in the meantime frugality seems to have become the thing to do globally. Consumers aren’t consuming and we are all saving.

I am happy to report that I have dug myself out of my own consumption hole. I managed to pay off close to $60,000 in debt these past three years. I have another $7000 or so to go, but I am on my way there. It is a relief not having to worry about creditors and having too many bills to pay…

The Globe and Mail had an interesting piece entitled How to eat well for $1 a day and still have leftovers. The article features a blogger, Jeffrey Strain, recounting how he is saving money using coupons on his blog. I am impressed Jeffrey.

However, an earlier piece in the same newspaper highlights how difficult it is for some to make the leap to even minor changes that save money. Dave McGinn (Mr. Miser) writes in Savings in the bag: the art of the $5 lunch that:

But you can’t have anything you want on a budget of $5 a day. While I was able to afford four chocolate pudding cups, since I found them on sale for 99 cents, I couldn’t afford the granola bars I like to eat. In fact, most packaged food was off the table. On the upside, that meant eating way more fruits and vegetables than I normally do.

Have we become so spoiled that we don’t understand the concept of leftovers? Are people now incapable of cooking? Can we not live if our food is not neatly packaged in single-serving packages?

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Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is certainly a popular topic with the growing crisis and as growing numbers are faced with their own personal financial crises. The Globe and Mail had a couple of good articles dealing with the topic today.

First, Sarah Hampson had a piece entitled “Personal bankruptcy. A new start or just a Band-Aid?”  Here she explores the causes of bankruptcy, notably the fact that we spend too much. She writes:

Last week, the federal Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy reported that almost 8,000 people in Canada filed for personal bankruptcy in January of this year, an increase of 21.7 per cent from the same month in 2008. And the rate could keep increasing in the coming months.

“We are seeing people in severe difficulty,” says Laurie Campbell, executive director of Credit Canada, a not-for-profit charitable organization that helps people in financial extremis. “The number of calls are up 40 per cent over this time last year,” she says. “It is quite grave.”

Major traumatic events, such as divorce, are often the cause of personal bankruptcy, experts say. Now with job losses rolling across the country in the wake of the global economic storm, many people are suddenly finding themselves unable to pay their bills.

But it’s not all the fault of the poor economy. Credit counsellors and financial experts see the increase in personal insolvency as a sign of insidious problems not only in the credit industry, but also in consumer financial habits.

Simply put, we are not frugal enough. Unfortunately, most people (myself included) realize too late how mired they are in debt. You always are certain that you will find that extra contract that will pay it off or you will get that better job. We deny a problem exists, until you hit a wall. My wall was divorce.

Sadly, we must learn financial planning and budgeting when it is already too late to salvage your credit rating. This from another Globe and Mail article:

It’s only with stock market calamities, foreclosures and layoffs dominating the news for months that many Canadians have been jolted into getting the crash course in financial basics they should have mastered years ago.

So they’re calling and pouring into the offices of credit counsellors, and experts across Canada are reporting a spike in attendance at personal finance seminars.

“We are getting more calls than ever in our 27 year history,” said Al Antle, executive director of the Credit Counselling Service of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fortunately, it is never too late to return to the path of financial sanity and learn how to be frugal. I learned my lesson about spending money that I do not have, and I am doing my best to be more financially prudent and to embrace frugality. Too bad I didn’t do this 10 years ago, but I hope to be better off in ten years from now.

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Waste Defined

As I was watching television this afternoon, I watched an ad for Bisquick® Shake ‘n’ Pour™ pancakes. You buy a plastic jug that contains pancake mix, add water and shake it to make the batter. Is it possible to have anything more wasteful than this? It is wasteful in terms of excess plastic packaging that will end up in a landfill and it is wasteful in terms of money that the consumer will waste on the convenience. I confess, I do buy pancake mix, but I buy one bag weighing several kilograms. How hard is it to measure out one cup, add water and mix? My one bag, which might be equivalent to the one plastic jug, will last me several months, whereas the one Bisquick® Shake ‘n’ Pour™ jug will last only one day or two at most, and I am sure I will be paying through the nose for the convenience. How lazy and how wasteful can the modern consumer get?

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Plan Paying Off

Today, I sent my daughter a birthday gift. It left me a bit sad that she is far away and I cannot see her, but I am hoping that by maintaining some form of contact with my children that I will be able to have a relationship with them in the future, a future when they will be old enough to make their own decisions and a bitter ex won’t be the gatekeeper.

In any case, the scale that I bought is coming in handy. I bought my daughter a doll. It weighed a bit more than 1.160kg. I had to cut the weight down to 1kg to save some money. I opened the package and took out all the excess weight: all the plastic, and all the extra cardboard. I managed to bring the weight of the box down to 920 grams and once it was wrapped up and ready to mail, it weighed in at 989 grams. Enough to save me over $10 in shipping costs. Rather than spending $44 on shipping, it cost me $32. Sure, it is not a huge savings, but $10 here and $10 there does add up pretty quickly.

As for the doll, I managed to find it on sale at $10 instead of the regular price of $30. She wanted a Bratz Babyes and managed to find her one. I hope she will like it.

To everybody else, I want to wish you a Happy St. Valentine’s Day. The love part does not always work out, but it is what makes life worth living :)

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Bankruptcy and Credit Counseling

The Globe and Mail reports that bankruptcies are skyrocketing in Canada:

Bankruptcies among consumers are surging across Canada.

The number of consumers filing for bankruptcy in December soared 50.6 per cent, although filings fell from a month earlier, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada said Monday.

While the filings spanned all regions of Canada, Alberta was highest at 106 per cent.

Bankruptcies among businesses were up just 2.4 per cent from a year earlier, but tend to lag consumer filings, economists say.

The question arises as to whether it is best to go into bankruptcy or to go see a credit consellor. The Globe and Mail has a good piece entitled “Five things to consider before declaring personal bankruptcy” that would be a must read on what to do. They also had two discussions whereby readers go online and ask questions to visiting guests. These included a discussion on bankruptcy and one on credit counseling.

If you are in a bind, these articles will provide some useful information as to what would be best for you and your family.

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Update

I have been blogging for a while now, and will now take a moment to provide an update on my progress to date. Some things have been successful, some a bit less so. I will share my observations and the insights I have gained.

Cast Iron

I am still using my cast iron frying pan. It is great! I highly recommend making the switch to cast iron. It is cheap, it cooks better, it is healthier and it is better for the environment. However, you have to be careful with cleaning. I was a bit too aggressive with my cleaning and food was starting to stick. When this happened, I cooked some bacon and rather than scraping, I boil some water in the frying pan and gently brush away the grime or cooked on foods. All told, my pan is no longer sticking and clean.

ClearCheckbook.com

I have been using the online money management site ClearCheckbook.com and have been quite impressed. I had done wonders with my ability to keep track of my money and to plan. They upgraded the site and added a premium version. However, the free version suits me fine for now. When I will have a bit more money to spare, I will upgrade.

Bread

I am still making bread and hamburger buns. I modified my reciped somewhat: I substitued 3 cups of my white flour for whole wheat flour. Makes tasty and healthier bread. Tonight, I cooked some cinnamon buns. We still go to restaurants for special occasions only. I do confess that I have been going to a local café to work. I buy a coffee and a refill [$1.98] and work for a few hours. It helps me to get motivated. So, it is a small cost to encourage me to do more work.

Cleaning

I am still using vinegar and baking soda for most of my cleaning needs. One minus: I noticed that I could not clean under the rim of the bowl. I broke down and used the last of my toilet cleaner. I will likely have to buy some more. I will try to alternate: one week vinegar and baking soda, one week toilet cleaner.

Conclusions

In summary, I have had some setbacks, but, overall, most of my experiments have been successful.

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