January's money mistake has to do with avoidable food waste. Read more to find out how bad the problem of avoidable food waste is as and how you can reduce your avoidable food waste. #handfulofthoughts #foodwaste #moneymistake #savemoney

Monthly Money Mistake – January 2020

This month’s money mistake relates to avoidable food waste.

Welcome to another installment of my monthly money mistake. Although I try really hard to keep control of my finances, I am human and mistakes happen.  This series is where I talk about those mistakes in hopes that it helps you identify areas of improvement in your finances.

It also helps to know that even though sometimes it looks like I may know what I’m doing, at the end of the day, that’s only an appearance.

Related Post – Not Tracking Monthly Expenses

Previous month’s money mistakes have been slightly all over the map but a lot of them relate to food.  This is not surprising as food is a major player in my budget and is also highly variable.

Once again, this month’s money mistake relates to food and more specifically avoidable food waste.  I’m not talking about eggshells and banana peels.  But rather food that we purchased with the intent on eating but for various reasons never did.

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Last Months’ Money Mistake Follow Up

There isn’t much to follow up with on last month’s money mistake. I have been much more mindful of my time this past month, so I did not take on any new projects without thinking about the implications.   It was easier to do this month as it was quiet on the home front with everyone coming off of the holiday hangover.

In previous months I have talked about other mistakes related to our food budget, overspending on convenience food and not paying attention at the grocery store.  Usually when we grocery shop we do one big shop at the beginning of the month and then go back whenever we need to throughout the month.

This month we are experimenting with a new system.  I am still going shopping at the beginning of the month but am buying much less.  I’m being smarter with where I buy my groceries and am really hoping that it pays off.  Because this is the first month we have tried this new system we are still working out the kinks.

I will report back in a future post to let you know if we are going to keep this new system or go back to the drawing board.

The Mistake

Sadly, we are not along with this month’s money mistake. According to a study done by Second Harvest, the annual cost of avoidable food waste in Canada is $1766 per household.  That’s more than $147 per month.  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather keep that $147 every month than throwing it in the garbage.

There are a few factors that have contributed to our increase in avoidable food waste.  Because we are now shopping more frequently, it is easier to just pick up a few things without thinking about what we have at home.  This has led to buying duplicates (or even triplicates) of things we already have in our fridge.

Even though we eat a ton of fresh produce, sometimes we aren’t able to keep up with everything that I’m buying multiples of.  There is only so much celery a girl can eat.  And if you know me you know how much I don’t enjoy eating raw celery (unless it’s diced of course).

We also now have a toddler who at times eats what seems like more than we do, and other times barely eats at all.  She accounts for some of our avoidable food waste because when we reheat her dinner if she doesn’t eat it we are unable to save it an reheat it again.

She has also transitioned to drinking milk.  We warm her some milk for her to drink before bed.  Again, some nights she drinks it all and other nights only a sip.  We are still trying to figure out the “correct” amount to give her so that we are not wasting what she doesn’t drink.

I think in the future we may just transition away from the nighttime milk but we are not there yet.

The Lesson

The obvious lesson here is that we can definitely be more mindful when grocery shopping, or rather before we go grocery shopping.  Spending few minutes to take a quick inventory of what we already have and what we actually need could save us $100 a month.  That’s a pretty good return on my time if you ask me.

We also need to continue to roll with the punches when it comes to our little one.  Maybe instead of reheating all her food at once, we do it in sections.

I have often heard about the amount of avoidable food waste that occurs in the “average” household and always thought that I was better than that.  Sure I wasn’t wasting over $100 on food every month.  Maybe not so much.  I need to get my ego in check and realize that there is room for improvement here.

If we are going to spend a large portion of our monthly budget on fresh food, then we better eat it.

January's money mistake has  to do with avoidable food waste.  Read more to find out how bad the problem of avoidable food waste is as and how you can reduce your avoidable food waste. #handfulofthoughts #foodwaste #moneymistake #savemoney

Action Steps

In writing this post I have taken some time to reflect on how we can improve our food budget and decrease our avoidable food waste.  Here are some of the action steps we are going to adopt in our household moving forward:

  • Not heat up more food and milk for little one than needed
    • Heat up small portions of food at a time
    • Think about transitioning away from nighttime milk
  • Take a few minutes to take inventory of the fridge before going to the grocery store
  • Grocery shop with a list
  • Eat fresh produce first before relying on non-perishables 
  • Look for new recipes that call for produce that is already in the fridge 
    • So that the repetition of food ingredients won’t seem so boring

I anticipate these action steps will have an immediate impact on the avoidable food waste in our household.  This, in turn, should decrease the amount of money we are spending on food and be overall better for the environment.  Come back and check out next month’s post to see how we did.

What was your money mistake this month?

4 thoughts on “Monthly Money Mistake – January 2020”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Maria! This is something I am also working on. I need to develop better grocery shopping strategies and pay more attention at the grocery store while there. I hope your new system works out. That’s shocking about $147 worth of waste annually. That’s a lot of money that could’ve been invested. Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thanks, RTC – imagine what that $147 would be worth if it was investing annually. Saw that one of your goals for this year was also to be more conscious of your avoidable food waste. We can keep each other accountable:)

  2. Great post! Food waste is a huge one, both from a monetary and environmental perspective. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to streamline our efficiency with food, but it’s definitely something that requires ongoing attention.

    Your action plan looks great, I’ve found many of those (shopping with a list, inventory of the pantry etc) extremely effective. Looking back, I’d have to say the best thing I’ve done is meal plan weekly. I also take an inventory of my cupboard/fridge, and try to meal plan using ingredients that are already there.

    I also plan the whole week around how much of a given item I use in each meal. IE: if I make Taco’s on Monday, I know we’ll only use 1/2 container of sour cream, so I plan a second meal later in the week that will use up the other half.

    My boys (the big one included) don’t particularly like leftovers either, so that’s forced me to be ultra mindful of recipe sizing and portion control, which has also helped a lot.

    Look forward hearing how your new game plan is working! Good luck!

    1. Phia – meal planning is a great idea – I wish I could do this. We have tried meal planning many times and it never works out for whatever reason.

      I do like your idea of thinking ahead with ingredients. This is something we try to do too. I find thinking ahead to help on those busy nights after a long day at work when I have decision fatigue and don’t want to think about what to cook.

      We love leftovers in our house, we just have to eat them more frequently so that they do not spoil and become avoidable food waste.

      Thanks for the encouragement Phia.

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