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PFT #9 - Personal Finance Tip: 40% of the Grocery Budget is Wasted

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

This week's topic is about the management of your food when it comes to dining out, buying groceries and having your food delivered.

So here’s a stunning fact: 40% of all food in the United States is wasted. 40%!

Yes that is stunning! So let’s think about this in another context. Other than the super rich, 40% is more than the highest effective federal tax rate in this country.

How about this? This means that if you went out to dinner and spent $100, in effect you will only eat $60 worth of the food.

Again that is crazy when you think about it in that context. So what can you do?

The easiest way to curb this cost is to make a meal plan so that lunches and dinners are organized. Essentially you’re saving money by lowering the cost of the food itself; and secondly the food that is being prepared is well thought out so that the people eating it will like it.

This also leads into ensuring the person preparing can actually cook. With that being said another method you can implement is to eat leftovers which can create a few additional meals which again cut down on your grocery budget.

Another common choice is to freeze your food so that it does not expire. This not only applies to the leftovers it also works for food that has yet to be cooked.

One last thought with eating is to create variety in the food that you eat so that you don't get tired of eating the same old thing. I remember eating peanut butter and jelly everyday as a kid.

Okay so let’s drill down one step further: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends more than $7,700 per year on groceries and going out.

This means for some of the demographic, food cost is the most expensive item in the budget and for the others, it is the third highest cost.

So check this out. If we do the math from that $7,700 at 40% this equates to giving away $3,080.

So here’s some food for thought. If you took that $3,080 and invested that at a 7% interest rate over 30 years, you’d have a staggering $311,380. That’s crazy! That's the beauty of compound interest.

So when looking at it from this angle it behooves all of us improve our personal finance food management.

So let’s do a recap on how to cut down on food waste.

1. Set meal plans for lunch and dinner each week and create variety in the food that you eat.

2. Eat your leftovers or repurpose them for additional meals during the week.

3. Freeze your leftovers and unprepared food to hedge against spoiling.

4. And lastly, when you waste less food this means it is less harmful to the environment.

For more detail on food waste and good money management tips, listen to Podcast #18 The Self-Imposed Food Tax - Americans Waste 40% of the Food That They Buy.

Episode Link:

Food Waste in the United States  - 40% of food is wasted


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