Saving pennies, but wasting dollars?

Consumers are always on the lookout for bargains. Coupons can save you money and by shopping around you can often find savings. But, do consumers save pennies only to waste dollars? To truly pinch pennies, it is important to make sure that you are no saving to waste later.

One of ways in which consumers waste money is by throwing away food. Saving pennies to buy a head of lettuce will not save you a lot of money if that same head of lettuce ends up in the garbage can. Research show that Americans and Canadians waste a lot by throwing away food.

According to “Food Waste Epidemic in America” by Larry O’Hanlon of Discovery News:

Americans are tossing out at least $75 billion in food each year, according to an extensive study that follows foods from farms through retailers and into the mouths and waste bins of consumers.

The eight-year study reveals that restaurants, convenience stores and most families could help their bottom lines if they just learned to buy, store and use food more wisely.

“If we wanted to stimulate the economy all we’d have to do is cut food losses,” said [Jones] anthropologist at the University of Arizona’s Bureau of Applied Research Anthropology.

At home, the average American family throws away 14 percent of their food, Jones said. In terms of money, that’s almost $600 every year in meats, fruit, vegetables and grain products.

The best ways to cut the losses is for families to honestly examine what they actually eat, draw up menus and freeze leftovers so they don’t spoil before you can eat them, Jones says.

An even simpler strategy is one that my wife has imposed on our household spending: we do not buy more food until the cupboards and the fridge are bare. Other than eggs and milk, we strive to eat all the food that we have before buying any more. This cuts down on waste. By keeping fewer perishables, we ensure that less gets wasted as we are forced to eat what is there. We waste close to zero food, and this saves us money. If the average American (and by extension Canadian) family were to do the same, they could save at least a tenth of their food bills every year. This is much easier than clipping coupons and less wasteful in gas and time than going from one store to the next to save a few pennies.

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