A Year of Good Habits: Don’t Throw Away the Food!

We have entered the first days of June. June, sweet June, has continued wet and cold here in New Hampshire. I’ve tallied the rain days–fourteen and then, after a few days of respite, seven. Still, school ends in eight more days, flowers are blooming, and the boys and I are headed to the South for our annual summer road trip at the end of the month. Life is sweet this time of year.

Don't Throw Away the Food!--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

It’s amazing that at the end of the month we’ll have finished half of the year! In some ways, it’s lovely to see the progress towards our goals we’ve made this year, and personal growth we’ve made as a family, in helping the kids navigate school and friendships, and finding the best combination of after-school activities and fun without going over the top.

We’ve also started the process of replacing our roof, and just sent a check in for 50% of the cost–$7,000 dollars of our hard-earned, after-tax dollars. I just keep telling myself that we’ll have a beautiful new roof that won’t leak and will make the house sellable! And I’m grateful that we’ve saved up that cash so we don’t have to panic or take out a loan for this major home repair.

That’s part of the peace of mind that spending less than we earn and saving has given us. I’m grateful for it even as I curse the cost of new roofs in New England.

So far, this year, I have undertaken the habits of staying within my budget each month, making my bed every day, writing down my top three goals each day, working out after dinner, and unplugging from social media at night. Some of these habits are “strictly” financial and others are about developing self-discipline and/or having life run a little more smoothly.

I’ve stuck with most of the habits, although I don’t always do each one every day: staying in budget (mostly!), making my bed, unplugging from social media. I have been terrible about writing my three goals each day and I gave up exercising after dinner because I’m running in the mornings since the weather is nicer.

June seemed like a perfect month to focus on frugality since we have a lot of expenses this month. Property taxes are due along with the other half of the roof and I’m also not teaching in the summer so I don’t earn any income after June 14th, our last day of school.

Road trippin'--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
The Junior ThreeYears and me at the start of our road trip last summer.

This Month’s Habit…

So, without further ado, this month’s habit will be Eat All the Things! Yes, my habit this month is taken from one of my favorite posts on Frugalwoods.com. This month, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we eat all the food in our fridge and not waste anything. And I’ll also poke around in the nooks and crannies of our freezer and the recesses of our pantry to find those mystery Ziplocs and marinated mushrooms (but I’m feeding those to Mr. ThreeYear).

We compost all our food scraps, so why is it such a big deal if we waste a little food? It’ll just make more compost dirt, right?

Junior ThreeYear asked that question and this was my reply:

While we won’t be putting any food in a landfill if we throw away food, we are still wasting.

We’re wasting money and we’re wasting energy.

I did some research to find documentation that Americans throw away 20% of the food they buy. But I came across an article in The Atlantic that shared a flabbergasting statistic: roughly HALF of all produce in the US is thrown away. Egads!! Half!! And…

“Wasted food is also the single biggest occupant in American landfills, the Environmental Protection Agency has found.”

Like Throwing Money in the Trash

Double egads! It seems that we as a culture can’t stomach dinged, nicked, or slightly browned fruits and veggies, so we toss them. And the value of all that food that we toss adds up to about $1600 annually per family! To say nothing of all the ugly fruit that ends up in landfills before it even gets to the store. (I’m so glad there are organizations like Endfoodwaste.org to rescue some of that produce and giving it new life).

Compost bin--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Our trusty compost bin, tucked away under the sink.

Growing up, I remember my mom cutting the mold off bread or cheese and telling us kids, “This is perfectly fine to eat! Just cut off the moldy part and eat the rest!” These were great lessons in frugality and not wasting.

After all, there’s a lot of energy required to grow and transport our food. When we throw away a whole slice (or loaf!) of bread because it’s moldy, we’re also wasting the energy required to grow and move that food from farm to table (especially food like beef! It takes 25 times as much energy to produce as corn).

Let me stop here and say that for all this talk about waste, there’s a reason I’ve picked this habit. I have been known to (eh-hem) waste some food myself. Yes, because of poor planning, I’ve been known to buy too many groceries, let half a carton of strawberries go bad, or throw out leftover we forgot in the back of the fridge for a month or two.

I am fine with the amount of money our family spends on groceries, which is higher than many other frugal families. But, I am not okay with wasting food. So that’s why I want to focus this month on eating everything in our fridge before it goes bad. It will mean I’ll need to be flexible with meals, and do a daily scan of the fridge to see what’s on the way out.

Last night, I scanned the fridge and saw a squash that was a day or two away from a compost grave. So I made a squash, zucchini, and caramelized onion stir fry to use it up before I had to toss it.

I can also prep food so it’s more likely to be eaten. We have half of a watermelon currently sitting on our counter, but if I cut it up and put it in a nice glass container in the fridge for my lunch tomorrow, it’s practically guaranteed to be eaten before then.

My cucumbers, ready to be devoured by hungry ThreeYears.

I’m committing to eat everything in the fridge before it goes to the compost pile, but I’ll also be using up as much as I can in the pantry. We have a lot of canned goods and frozen veggies we can use, so I’ll be making veggie soup (our weather is still perfect for soup, one benefit of a chilly Spring), curries, and whatever else I can figure out from the ingredients in the pantry.

There’s lots of random goodies in the back of the pantry to be enjoyed this month!

At the end of the month I’ll post a report on how I’ve done during the first half of the year with these habits.

As always, thanks for sharing in our journey towards financial and location independence! I appreciate you reading!

What are your goals for June? 

Author: Laurie

Hi. I'm Laurie, and my family and I have set out to double our net worth and move abroad in the next three years. Join us on our journey!

4 thoughts on “A Year of Good Habits: Don’t Throw Away the Food!”

  1. My goal for June is to finish making Pinterest images for all of my scheduled posts. It’s something I both enjoy and dread. I like the final image but not particularly the whole process.

    I wanted a lot of food last week two. It was one of my frugal fails. I try to eat everything, but sometimes I just can’t because of IBS. 🙁

    1. Ms. FAF, thanks to your awesome suggestion, I just found Canva and used it to make an image for this post. It took a while to get the hang of it but it’s an awesome resource! Thanks! I’m sorry to hear about IBS. My sister suffers from that occasionally. Ugh! I waste food a lot for lesser reasons but I share your frustration over it!

  2. Maple syrup! Or, at least, I think it’s maple syrup. You can make some pretty amazing salad dressings with a bit of maple syrup : ) (can you tell I’m Canadian?).

    Eating all the food is a fantastic goal for the month! Good luck with the creativity, and I hope you discover some nummy new mixes.

    1. Yes! Local maple syrup! Great suggestion to put it in salad dressings. I never thought of that. It must be in the Canadian DNA to know all the ways to use maple, right? 🙂 Thanks so much. I think my main hurdle will be energy for cooking everything from scratch! Gotta get my 9 hours of sleep every night this month 🙂

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