This article is part of HuffPost’s Reclaim campaign, an ongoing project spotlighting the world’s waste crisis and how we can begin to solve it.
The average American family-of-four wastes around $1,500 a year on food that it ultimately ends up tossing in the trash.
That’s a ton of money ― some $29 per week ― that could be better spent on just about anything else you don’t plan on trashing within seven days.
But with one simple trick you can put back into your pocket a lot of that hard-earned money, and feel fantastic about reducing food waste (which has great environmental and social benefits) at the same time.
The solution? The old-school weekly shopping list.
Yes, some people may say the method is antiquated ― but sometimes you gotta look back to move forward.
Executed correctly, a weekly shopping list can save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars each year ― as it has for me over the last decade, ever since I realized I was stupidly throwing out more food than I was eating.
Here’s how to implement the shopping list properly:
1. Grab a pen and paper. (See, it IS simple).
2. On the left hand side, write down the days and meals, like so:
3. Plan what you/your family will eat for each one of those mealtimes:
4. On the right hand side, first write down your weekly staples ― like milk, bread, butter, cheese, flour, chocolate, etc…
5. Then beneath the staples, write down the ingredients (and the quantity of each) you’ll need for each of the meals on the left. As you progress, you may realize some of the meals on the left require the same elements. Bonus!
6. Buy everything on the list, and ONLY the things on the list in the quantities you’ve listed. Don’t be suckered by “deals” on other products.
7. Then don’t buy a single food item until you come to repeat the exercise in one week’s time (unless you REALLY need something, we don’t want you to starve).
That really is it.
Good luck, and please don’t be this guy: