How Much Money Do You Waste on Food by Throwing Groceries Away?

If you don’t plan what you’re going to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, you don’t eat your leftovers, or you don’t freeze extras or bulk food, you’re probably throwing away more than you think.

In my house, we go shopping every week – or at least attempt to go. We spend on average of $100 every week, sometimes more, and rarely less. We could be doing a better job of finding sales, clipping coupons, and planning out our meals for the week but for now that’s where we are with expenses so that’s where I’ll start my “how much money do you waste” estimation.

So where do we lose money on food?

Meal Planning:

We usually try to buy food for specific meals, plus we make sure there are some lazy day meal ideas thrown in there too, like a frozen pizza. Reid also needs his full supply of nacks (snacks for those of you who don’t speak Reid) including fruit cups, yogurt, milk, fresh fruit, fruity booty, etc… So as a whole, we do a pretty good job of having a list and at least sort of know what we want to cook.

Meal Follow Through:

Ah, good ‘ol follow through. This can sometimes derail a good meal plan. Does this sound familiar: “We planned to have chicken enchiladas tonight, but we have to cook and shred the chicken, make the enchilada sauce, put it all together, make rice to go with it. Let’s just do pizza tonight and we’ll make that tomorrow, or the next day…” I hope it sounds familar or maybe this probelm is just mine, I doubt it though.

So now all of a sudden that chicken that was slated for enchiladas is sitting in the fridge either waiting for you to cook it tomorrow, or waiting for next week when you realize it’s still sitting there and it’s now bad and needs to be thrown out.

I usually try to cut, clean, and freeze my chicken the day I bring it home and then just defrost it the day I plan to use it. I didn’t do that a couple of weeks ago and two packs of chicken sat in the fridge and went bad just like my story above.


Some people are very good about eating leftovers, others – not so much. I fall into the it depends on what it is and what I feel like the next day category. I usually like a sandwich or salad or something lunch-like for lunch so sometimes I just don’t feel like the leftover slow cooker pot roast. Even if it’s something I really enjoyed and have for leftovers once or twice, depending on how much we made, I still might get sick of having it too many days in a row. For example, we made slow cooker bbq pulled pork about a month ago. I brought leftovers for lunch a couple of times but then it just say it the fridge and went bad.

The moral of the story. Freeze leftovers in portions, that way when you want it again you can just defrost what you want and you won’t let it go to waste by forgetting about it in the fridge.


Here are a few tips to avoid waste or not following through on meal planning.

  1. Freeze things right away. Like I mentioned above, when I get home from the grocery store, I try to cut, clean, and freeze my chicken so it’s ready to go when I need it and I don’t forget about it in the fridge.
  2. Freeze leftovers in portions. If you don’t think you’ll have your leftovers again right away, freeze it in meal portions. Separating it like that is important because otherwise you’ll see a large container of food in the freezer but not want to reheat all of it, is it just stays there and doesn’t get used.
  3. Prep what you can when you get home from the grocery store. If you’re planning to make fajitas for dinner, chop up your onions and bell peppers so when fajita night comes around you don’t fall into the enchilada trap I talked about earlier.

What do you do to try to cut down on the amount of money you waste on food by throwing away groceries? Do you have any other tips on how to save? I’d love to hear from you.