Celebrate the Earth and Stretch Your Food Dollar!

hand holding globe
Today is Earth Day and what better way to celebrate than by saving some green by going green with your grocery shopping. These tips adapted from Alice Henneman, Extension Educator at the University of Nebraska will take you beyond recycling the various packages that your food comes in and will help you save money, adding a little extra green in your pocket!

  1. Size matters. – Buy the biggest container that you can afford. Do you really need to purchase individual containers if you eat them all at home?
  2. It’s in the bag. – Carry reusable shopping bags when possible. If you don’t, reuse plastic grocery bags to line small wastebaskets and make trash disposal easier.
  3. Gotta have a plan! Reduce fuel consumption by planning ahead and shopping less often.
  4. Practice the 3 Rs. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
    • Reduce the amount of food thrown away by serving smaller portions of food. You can always go back for more if needed.
    • Reuse leftovers by planning to serve them again within two days or freezing for future use. Be sure to label and date your container.
    • Recycle leftovers into a different meal; for example – leftover roasted chicken can be turned into chicken salad, soup, casseroles or tacos.
  5. Don’t be a “spoil”-sport. Throwing away spoiled food is just like throwing away leftovers. Follow these practices to reduce the amount of spoiled food you toss:
    • Read labels for “use by,” “expiration,” or “best if used by” dates.
    • Refrigerate and freeze your food at the proper temperatures—0 degrees F or lower for freezers and 40 degrees F or lower for the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer for accuracy.
    • Follow recommended storage times for foods to maintain quality and safety of food products.
    • Avoid buying too much food in bulk especially if it can spoil before you use it.
  6. Drink to this. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water. Think of the savings to your wallet and the reduction of water bottles in the landfill.
  7. Bulk it up. Many household products such as hand soap can be purchased in larger bottles and used to refill a smaller bottle. This will reduce cost and also save landfill space.

 If all these ideas seem overwhelming, choose one or two to work on for this month. Then add another one or two next month. Keep adding new practices until you are doing all of them.   Soon you will see those extra dollars adding up. Take that extra money and start a fund for something special for yourself or the kids. You’ll be surprised at how fast it adds up!

© 2024 North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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