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Don’t Want to Save Leftovers? Share Them!

{ Posted on Jan 12 2011 by Marcus Alston }

So much food is wasted every year.  Approximately 25% to 40% of food in the U.S. is wasted each year by the food industry, families, supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses.  An average family of four in the U.S. spends close to $7,000 per year on groceries according to 2007 USDA data and wastes approximately $1,750 to $2,800 worth of food per year.  This is money down the drain that you could use although statistics show on average we will end up wasting quite a bit.  After bringing in some food to work that my kids would not eat and watching it get devoured by co-workers, it gave me an idea–share your leftover food with others and help stretch their budgets.

This blog post assumes you are not going to eat your leftovers, freeze them, or otherwise find a positive use for them such as composting (although I believe at least the first use below is arguably a more positive use than even eating your leftovers yourself).

Donate Your Food to Non-profit Shelters.  There are various local and national non-profit organizations that will accept food donations and give them to people in need.  Your food donation can help stretch the slim budgets of non-profits and provide a taste meal to someone less fortunate.   Seemingly on a monthly basis for a while, my wife and I would have party for family or friends and end up with a lot of food we did not think we could eat (or at least my wife thought we would waste).  Instead, we would take the leftovers to a battered women’s shelter.  They were very appreciative and took the food without any prior notice.  It made us feel good and thankful as well despite often getting the munchies just hours (or minutes) later.  Homeless shelters are also another group that will often take food.  If you are going to donate, make sure the food is in good shape, tastes good, and has not spoiled.  It should be properly stored prior to donating to prevent spoilage.   Also, consider checking with your accountant to see if the food contribution is tax deductible similar to a clothes or furniture donation to the Salvation Army.   If it is, see if you can get a receipt from the organization.

Friends and Neighbors.  Give your food away to family and friends if you know you are not going to be able to eat it all.  Let them take home doggie bags.   If you hosted a meal, you know your guests just enjoyed your great cooking and they are just trying to be polite by saying no to taking food home.  Try to insist unless they really don’t want the food or you think they will waste it—maybe they are on a diet.  If you are the recipient of the offer of food, graciously accept it. Times are tough and changing and we need to swallow our pride (no pun intended) and take the offer which we probably could use.  It’s not being tacky; it’s being prudent and frugal. And don’t forget, you are helping your friend or family member not waste food.  You might even ask after the offer if it makes you feel better, “Is the food going to go to waste otherwise?”  Also, by giving food away you might waste, especially fattening food, you save yourself some calories and save the land fill.   In 2008, about 12.7 % of the total municipal solid waste generated in the US was from food waste.  Finally, how about your parents, brother, sister, in-laws, child, etc.?  Could they use a nice home cooked meal?  Well its cooked, so call them over to get some food. 

 Bring it to Work.  How about your hungry colleagues?  I don’t know about you, but every place I have worked, my co-workers have loved to eat.  Take that leftover casserole, cake or even pizza to the office and leave it in an appropriate area such as a break room or kitchen and leave a note to others to help themselves.  Refrigerate it if needed and take it out at breakfast or lunch time as appropriate.  I took some individual diced peaches (think the canned peaches in syrup) that my kids would not eat.  It was creating clutter (getting rid of clutter is another benefit) and I thought about throwing the food out, but I thought better of it and I brought them in to work wondering if anyone would eat them.  In a matter of a hour, most of the peaches were gone.   I was so surprised by the reaction that I grabbed one as a dessert with my lunch.  And it was delicious!  I then thought about writing a blog post about.  Sharing food with others definitely has multiple benefits and bares fruit!

Do you have any ideas about what to do with leftovers?  If so, please write me below and share your thoughts.

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