How to Avoid Food Waste During the Holidays

Last updated: November 2022

The holidays are expensive enough without the added cost of food waste. With festivities taking over your social calendar, it doesn't leave much time to enjoy a fridge full of food. Then, before you know it, your fresh produce may transform into a fuzzy or mushy mess. Talk about wasting money!

This holiday season, lend your wallet a helping hand by minimizing food waste. Check out these recommendations to transform your food purchasing habits into a penny-pinching operation to help minimize holiday-induced financial stress.

Preparing before you go to the store

Avoiding food waste is one of the easiest ways to save money. So, keep these 3 essential tips in mind before going grocery shopping.

1. Consider your social calendar

If you have multiple dinner parties planned throughout the week, consider keeping your grocery store purchases to the essentials. In other words, purchase an amount of food that reflects the number of days you plan on cooking.

2. Make a shopping list

Check it twice! Your wallet will find out if you've been naughty or nice. So, help keep your spending under control by shopping with a grocery list. Remember to stick to it. Trust me; it's easier said than done! To help, avoid going to the grocery store while hungry.

If you have a limited number of meals eaten at home during the week, decide which few recipes you want to cook ahead of time. That way, you only buy the items that you need. If not, you may have a fridge full of mismatched items, making it challenging to create a meal.

3. Double-check your pantry

Before you go, remember to also look in your pantry or refrigerator for food approaching its end. Or else, before you know it, the canned goods are expired, the potatoes have sprouted, frozen veggies have freezer burn, and fresh produce is no longer recognizable. So, be proactive and include soon-to-expire items in your next recipe.

Helpful tips when you're at the grocery store

Your pre-game strategy is ready to get put to the test. To help you reach your shopping goals, keep these 3 tips in mind.

1. Stay calm

Navigating the various grocery store aisles during the holidays can feel like an extreme sport. With frantic shoppers speeding around every corner, it can be tempting to abandon your entire food plan and choose a prepared alternative. However, many ready-made meals usually cost more!

2. Shop the sales

While everyone has preferences, there may be an off-brand or similar item for a significantly lower price. While you may have a list, feel free to substitute if it's more costly. For instance, can you use blueberries in your recipe instead of blackberries? While it may not seem significantly different, consistently shopping the sales can translate into significant reductions to your total bill.

3. Buy realistic quantities

If you have many upcoming events, including eating out, it's not the time to buy in bulk. While it will save you some change, it becomes a race against the food clock to enjoy food before it spoils. So, only buy large quantities if you can realistically consume the amount or if it's shelf-stable.

This time can be challenging!

It's time for giving! Remember, these upcoming months can be an incredibly challenging time for people. So, if you have an overabundance of food, feel free to pass it along. Bring extras to a nearby shelter, community program, friends, or family to spread the holiday cheer.

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