The latest data shows the average American household spends about 10% of its total budget on food each year.
As of 2013, U-S Bureau of Labor statistics says the average food cost for a US household was 6,602 dollars, but over a third of that food went to waste.
We paid a visit to the landfill to find out what North Dakotans are wasting, and what your family can do to maximize the use of the food already in your fridge.
Feeding her family three healthy meals a day is Tara Bohlen’s top priority.
The Bismarck resident and mother of three Tara Bohlen says, “We noticed that the price of food is a little bit higher than perhaps the preservative, conventional other foods that people are accustomed to purchasing. So we started saving money when we realized we need to eat the food that we are purchasing.”
She cooks a couple soups every week so it’s available for her family to grab and go, but the soups also use up any leftover vegetables and protein that might otherwise go to waste.
Bohlen adds, “I think the main reason people are wasting food is they’re just not aware of what’s going on. Maybe the business of life gets them so they’re throwing things out. Maybe they cook something, but it goes into the trash, just due to the fact that they’re busy, they’re running around.”
According to the USDA, between 30 and 40 percent of all food in America is wasted, and we consumers are the biggest piece of the problem. SavetheFood.com says individuals and families waste more than grocery stores and restaurants combined.
Galen Bren has been working at the Bismarck landfill since 2001, and has noticed the large amount of food waste that fills the city landfill each year.
The City of Bismarck Recycling Specialist adds, “That’s an expensive hole. It’s the most expensive hole at the landfill, that the food waste goes into.”
Bren urges people to think about what and how much they’re preparing for the holidays, so it doesn’t end up here.
he says, “Sure we have all this room out here, but why use it up? Make it last.”
Bohlen says the biggest thing people can do to avoid throwing food away, is to have a plan before heading to the grocery store.
She explains, “We know exactly what we’re going to use, and we know exactly where to get what we need. We have a list at Sam’s, what we need at Sam’s. We have a list at the Co-op, what we need there.”
She says setting a routine like her family’s not only saves them from wasting, but it saves money and keeps them from eating out all the time.
Other tips from SavetheFood.com include trying new recipes that use up leftovers, and making sure you’re storing food properly, so it lasts as long as possible.