Wasted Food is Wasted Money

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Don’t throw your money away with your leftovers. Learn how to cut down on food waste and save money in today’s article.

Holiday time is upon us. It’s the time of year when people start feeling the pressure of extra demands on the paychecks. Much of holiday celebrating centers around food, and that puts a strain on the average food budget. However, holiday season isn’t the only time that staying within a tight food budget is necessary. It’s a monthly task that takes extra planning, and any trick to save a few bucks is helpful. Here are some interesting facts that may surprise you and get you thinking about ways you can save money.

A study done by George Washington University claims that 33.19 million tons of food were wasted in the United States in 2010—enough to fill the Empire State Building 91 times. Household food waste accounts for 55-65 percent of this total. Each month the average American throws away approximately 20 pounds of food. That’s 240 pounds per year at a cost of about $370 per person! Protein foods make up the biggest waste while breads and pasta are least likely to be dumped.

Why do we toss food? The biggest reason is because it spoils before we can eat it. Other reasons may include over-purchasing perishable food, cooking big meals and throwing some of it away, or not eating everything on our plate. The International Food Information Council reports that more than half of Americans say they take leftovers home from restaurants, use leftovers from cooking, plan their meals, make shopping lists, and use or freeze leftovers in a timely manner. This is a good start, but there are other critical ways to lessen the waste.

  • Think smaller portions. Super-sized portions are popular now. If we compare these portions to 20 years ago, many have doubled in size. We don’t need the extra calories. Using smaller plates also helps.
  • Store food correctly. Fruits and vegetables will last much longer if stored in the proper place. Bananas and tomatoes should be stored on the counter, out of the refrigerator. Onions, garlic, potatoes and winter squash should be in a cool, dark, dry place such as a cellar for optimum storage life. Apples will last up to a week on the counter but more than a week in the fridge. Keep them away from other produce as they produce ethylene gas which causes fruit to ripen faster. Citrus fruits should be stored in a mesh bag or the crisper drawer in the fridge. Berries, grapes, and cherries should be stored, unwashed, in the fridge. Washing these before storage hastens rot.
  • Keep a tidy fridge, freezer and pantry. If it’s out of sight, it’s usually out of mind. Much of fridge food isn’t discovered until it has grown green fuzzies. Remember that freezer food doesn’t last forever but dries out over time. When you bring new groceries home, move the older food to the front of the pantry or freezer and consume them first.
  • Understand expiration dates. A “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires. The “Best if Used By” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date. “Use-By” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates. Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome, and of good quality if handled properly. Trust your sense of smell and sight in these cases.
  • Be conscious of what you throw away and why. This way you can prevent the same from happening again.

Getting the most for our money is important. Some of these ideas may seem overwhelming but once practiced, they become habits that add extra money to our wallets and lessen budget stress.

This article was written by Ellen Serfustini, FCS Agent, Utah State University Extension

Family Favorite // Turkey Pot Pie

Did you save some turkey from your holiday dinners? Pull it out of the freezer and try it in this hearty pot pie your family is sure to love.

Turkey Pot Pie

  • 1 recipe pie crust dough
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, light and dark, diced or shredded (or both!)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth (more if needed!)
  • Splash of white wine (optional)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Frozen peas (optional)
  • Fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin by melting the butter in a skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are translucent (a couple of minutes).

Add turkey to the mixture and stir. Slowly add flour, mixing it into the mixture. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly.

Mix in the broth, and then add a splash of wine, if desired. Add the cream, mixing well. At this point, you may stir in the peas, if desired.

Bring to a slow boil and allow the mixture to cook and thicken for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper, and fresh or dried thyme, to taste. Do one final taste at the end, just to make sure that it tastes wonderful!  

Next, pour the mixture into a deep-dish crust. Then, roll out crust, making it about 1 inch larger than the top of the pan you’re using. Place the dough on top of the pot pie mixture, and press the crust into the sides of the dish. Cut vents in the top of the crust.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden, and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven, allowing time to cool before serving. Enjoy!

Tech Tip

Recipe Gallery is a wonderful tool for organizing your favorite recipes! This app is a mobile recipe book, where you can do anything from adding recipes that are in your grandmother’s cookbook, to posting screenshots of recipes found online. With a simple click of a button you can even print off recipes, share them as a PDF through email, and so much more! The app also connects through different devices. Forgot your iPad at home? No worries, the recipes are on your phone, too! 

This article was written by Marianne Clayburn, Duchesne County FCS Program Assistant

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

November Menu Planning

November Menu Planning

November is a crazy month. Stay ahead of the game and plan your meals now!

Om Nom November

You might remember that we did a post on menu planning a little while back. Menu planning is an amazing way to save money and time! However, thinking of meals to make week after week can be a challenge.

To help you out with the month of November, bigbiteslittlebudget.com has put together a sample menu plan for you! Feel free to move meals around, swap meals out for ones you like better and completely change it up. The most important thing is that you make a plan and stick with it.

Don’t worry; if you have never tried menu planning, this is a great place start! Plus, bigbiteslittlebudget.com has included all of the dinner recipes you will need this month and every single one is absolutely delicious.

Here is one of the recipes you won’t want to miss!
Pumpkin Pie Bread

To find your handy-dandy November menu plan and all SIX delicious recipes, click here.
Happy planning!


Table for One

Menu Planning // The Tips, The Tricks and The Benefits

Weekly Menu Planning

Who knew that saving your time, your money and your health was this easy!

October Menu Planning

Picture this:

The clock strikes 5:00 and you are home free. Everything is wonderful until you remember you don’t have plans for dinner. All of a sudden you’re panicking about ingredients and recipes and if you have enough of everything to make a meal. Instead of dealing with the idea of cooking you decide to just grab takeout.

Sound familiar?

While this option can be convenient, it is expensive and definitely not the most healthy. No matter if you have a big family or live by yourself, taking time to create menu plans each week will save time and money.

Why plan a menu?

Planning a menu will help you avoid:
• Going to the grocery store, loading up your cart, spending $100 or more, returning home to put all the food away, and then realizing you still have nothing to make for dinner. Let’s be honest, we have all done it.
• Spending 30 minutes or more at night trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. Menu planning means you spend 30 minutes or less per week figuring out what to eat. That is quite a time savings.
• Spending $40 on take out because you couldn’t figure out what to make with ingredients in the pantry.
• Throwing out leftovers you forgot about in the back of your refrigerator.

How to plan a menu

The hardest part of planning a menu is making time to do it.
Use these simple and easy tips along with the menu planning template to make a menu in just minutes!

1. Schedule a time when you will have a few minutes to dedicate to the task.
2. Plan your menu around food items you already have on hand. This will not only make your grocery bill less, but also use up products before they spoil.
3. Choose a variety of meals that include family favorites, budget stretchers, and quick-fix meals.
4. Cook once, eat twice. Plan to use your leftovers. Putting leftovers into your menu plan will reduce the amount you have to cook and reduce the amount of food waste.
5. Picture your plate as you plan each meal. Remember to include veggies and fruits in the menu. Ideally half the plate will include vegetables and fruits, a quarter of the plate will have grains, and the other quarter will have protein. With a glass on the side for dairy, you will have all the food groups suggested by MyPlate: choosemyplate.gov.
6. Have the local store circulars available when you are planning. Always take advantage of sales on products you know you will use.
7. Create a thorough shopping list.
Use this handy Grocery Shopping Packet to assure you have a successful trip to the store.

Sample Menu Plan for October PLUS 7 Delicious Recipes.

Big Bites on a Little Budget has put together a sample menu plan for October to help you get started. Feel free to switch things around and get creative.

Here is one of their wholesome and delicious recipes. Click here to find 6 more!

Easy Lite Lasagna



Mayo Clinic

USU Extension