So the price of food has gone up about 8% in the past year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Stop your complaining! As my mother always told me, "I like my whine in a glass, but not at the dinner table."
I'd have more sympathy for a lot of Americans who are upset about soaring food costs if it weren't for the fact that most of them can reduce what they spend on food by about 25% if they'd only do as my mother also told me: "Shut your yap and clean your plate!" (Now you know where I get my gifts for both language and tact.)
Prepare for shock and awe (and national embarrassment): According to government sources, roughly 25% of the food Americans buy goes to waste. That's about one pound of food, per American, per day -- thrown in the trash. Sadly we've crossed the line from Land of Plenty, to Land of Waste.
* Shop for groceries no more than once every two weeks. Time and again, studies confirm the obvious: Q.) How to keep yourself from buying too much stuff? A.) Shop less frequently. Grocery shopping is no different, but the key is to shop smart in order to avoid spoilage. Cook two or three meals' worth of each recipe at the beginning of the two-week period, and immediately freeze the extra portions for the second week. Freeze any meat that you won't be eating within the next 48 hours.
Use up fresh fruits and vegetables first, and then supplement them with just-as-healthy frozen as you get into the second week. Check expiration dates on dairy products before you buy them; in most cases you can find products that will remain fresh for two weeks or longer. The idea is to always USE UP what you buy before you shop again.
* Think layovers, NOT leftovers. Raise your hand and repeat after me: "I solemnly swear to consume the remaining portions (if any) of meals I failed to previously consume within 24 hours of my failure to consume them." Eat 'em for breakfast, pack 'em for lunch, or host a hors de-yester-jour happy hour with friends.
* How to handle restaurants. Establishments are frequently guilty of "over serving" in order to justify higher prices (call me a cynic). So order only from the appetizer menu or split a single ginormous entrée. And remember, doggy bags and leftovers have replaced Gucci bags and makeovers; green -- and cheap -- are the new cool.
* Social therapy. I can't see myself ever paying for therapy (although my poooor wife has offered more than once to take up a collection for me). The best therapy for curing wastefulness is not only free, but it even helps others who really need it: Volunteer one day out of the year at a local food kitchen for the needy, and then see how much food you throw away.
The raising, processing, packing, distribution, sale, and waste disposal associated with the food we eat -- or don't eat -- leaves a sasquatch-sized carbon footprint on old Mother Earth. Save your money, save the planet ... just shut your yap and clean your plate.
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