Why You Should Keep A Food Waste Log

Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realize. An apple core or leftover slice of pizza thrown away here or there doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal. However, all of that food adds up. 

The average household throws away about 32% of the food that it buys, according to the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. That roughly translates to about $1,500 wasted each year for a family of four, not to mention the larger environmental effects when all of that food winds up in landfills and releases harmful methane emissions. 

Of course, reducing food waste starts with only buying as much food as you know you will eat each week, but that can be easier said than done. Another useful strategy is keeping a food waste log. 

You can attach this log to your refrigerator or put it on your kitchen counter. Every time you throw something away, you note what you threw away, why you threw it away and how much it may have cost. 

Ideally, over time, you can become more aware of how much food you’re throwing away and hopefully take steps to fix it. 

To reduce food waste, you should also make sure that you’re storing your food smartly so as to keep it fresh for the maximum amount of time possible. For example, you should remove the green tops of your carrots when storing them since these tops tend to suck the moisture from the carrot. Or, as another example, you should store celery in foil, not plastic, so as to keep it crisp for longer.

Check out this food saver cheat sheet with storage tips for more than 20 common foods. 

Finally, you should think about the “best by” dates on the products you buy from the store. In the vast majority of cases, these dates are simply suggestions, not requirements. That means that you can eat many foods past their listed dates. 

For example, ketchup and mustard often last six months to a year past their stated expiration dates. Meanwhile, peanut butter can last up to eight months past its listed date, and yogurt can last up to three weeks past its date. Attach this printable resource to your refrigerator to remind yourself of how long common foods last. 

According to the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, even the least wasteful American households throw away 9% of their food. Reduce your waste with these printable food waste resources

Today’s post was provided to us by Matthew Zdun. This is not a paid post, as we are always happy to share great content from a variety of sources. If you have a post you’d like to share, please reach out to us at minimalistsnextdoor@gmail.com. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy these great printables as much as we do. 

Misfits Market – Hit or Miss?

I’m the person who sees the Hello Fresh box outside of my neighbor’s door every week and mumbles things like, “we could have bought an entire week’s worth of groceries for what he paid for that!” So, it was not without much, much, much hesitation that I opted to try a subscription box too.

A friend sent me a coupon code for 25% off a box from Misfits Market. I’d seen the ads on Facebook touting the benefits of the box, which include preventing “ugly” produce from going to waste, but I wasn’t sold on that statement alone. We all know that ugly produce goes to waste every day, right in the very stores where we shop. What was the difference in buying this box and shopping the 99-cent clearance bin at Kroger? Besides the fact that the Misfits box costs more? I decided to find out for myself.

We ordered the Mischief Box, the smallest box available and selected every other week for delivery (there are only two choices – weekly or biweekly). The contents of our first box were dealer’s choice. In other words, we had no idea what we would be getting, and honestly, that was probably the best part of the whole experience. For several years, we supported our local CSA. Every week during the growing season, we looked forward to seeing what surprises we might find in our basket. It was like Christmas for veggies 🙂

Sadly, the farmer we were buying from stopped selling CSA shares last year and we were left in a veggie void. This wasn’t so bad in the summer when other options were available, like the Farmer’s Market and roadside produce stands, but in the winter, our options are limited to Kroger, Walmart, and a local produce store (which is a great place but not exactly budget friendly). The Misfits Market box seemed the closest to a CSA basket we were going to get (at least right now).

Our Misfits Market box came on Saturday morning. I believe their only available delivery dates are Saturdays, which may matter to some folks, but not to us. I admit, we were pretty excited to see the FedEx truck pull up. Angie even met him at the door.

Inside the box, we found this:

Kale, green onions, pears, red potatoes, a mango, tangerines, turnips, yellow squash, gala apples, green beans, a Delicata squash, and yellow onions.

We received our box on January 4th. Within 10 days, we had eaten all of the contents – even the turnips, which are not my favorite. The quality of the produce is not in question. Every item was fresh and delicious. Every item is also organic and non-GMO. Some of the items were visibly “misfit” but for the most part, we couldn’t tell there was anything odd about them. Which is okay. Misfit produce doesn’t always mean misshapen. Some items are labeled misfits because they don’t meet salable standards.

We paid $22 for the box. The shipping was $5.50, so with the 25% off, we essentially got the shipping for free. Was it worth it? Before I answer that, I want to talk about some of the reservations I had prior to ordering and receiving the box.

First, I was concerned about packaging. We’re not die-hard zero-wasters but we do try to avoid unnecessary packaging when possible and make the most eco-friendly choices when we can’t. I was pleased to find that only one of the items in our box was in a package and that package was compostable. In fact, all of the packaging that Misfits Market uses is either compostable or recyclable, including the plastic bags. The ice pack that kept our produce from getting too warm is non-toxic and recyclable too, but we decided to keep it for our picnic basket.

Next, I was worried about food miles. The box came from New Jersey (800 miles away from us). The produce itself may have traveled even further to get to the warehouse. The Misfits Market website only says they source from “all across the Americas”. In season, we do our best to buy our food direct from the farm. Many of our local farmers are also our friends so we see the impact this makes in their lives. But I’d be lying to say that we only eat local. We buy the bulk of our groceries from the grocery store, which sources from all across the globe. If I’m already buying bananas from Guatamala at Kroger, I’m in no position to judge on food miles alone.

Which brings me to the only valid concern that I have with Misfits Market – value. Could I buy the same produce at my local grocer for less than or equal to the cost of the box? For that answer, I went to Kroger. The same items would have cost us $26.40, but only 75% of them would have been organic. Is the trade off worth it? I don’t know.

Okay, maybe I do know. Deep down, I know that Angie and I would never buy just 3 apples or 3 pears. We’d buy a bag to get the best price. And more often than not, we’d buy them off the clearance rack (or we’d fish them out of the dumpster, where they are free). I also know that we don’t often shop at Kroger for organic produce, unless it is on the clearance rack. But on the other hand, I know, that on our own, we would never have picked up a Delicata squash (which was delicious) or tried a turnip again (because the last one we had tasted too much like a beet). So…there’s that.

In the end, I guess it all comes down to convenience and I kind of like the convenience of the Misfits Market box. Going to the store is a chore that I don’t enjoy like I once did. Ordering groceries, whether through a service like this or for curbside delivery, saves us time (and headaches) and though I’m not certain yet, I do believe in the long run, it will save us money too. There’s no impulse spending when you get groceries online. After the delivery of our first box, we were offered the option to customize any future boxes. While this removes the “surprise” from the transaction, it does help ensure that we get items that we will use and that will give us the most bang for our buck.

In a few months, we’ll be planting our summer garden and a friend of ours has talked about starting a new CSA this year, so we have our fingers crossed! In the meantime, we will probably continue with the Misfits Market box, at least until April when the Farmer’s Market opens. It’s a good option when you want organic produce but don’t want to shop the grocery store.

If you’d like to try a Misfits Market box for yourself, visit misfitsmarket.com and enter the code: COOKWME-PH6QSP to get 25% off your order. If you do order (or have used a similar service before), let us know your thoughts.