3 ways to cut food waste at the grocery store

The average Canadian wastes an estimated 200 to 250 pounds of food per year. That’s about two medium-sized apples a day.

If we’re talking dollars, this waste equals over $72 a person each month, or over $289 each month for a family of four. According to a study by Value Chain Management International Inc., Canadian food wastes equals an estimated $31 billion annually (yes billion.)

That’s a lot of cash, and a lot of wasted food but there are simple things we can do while shopping to save money and food.

1. Understand a “best before” date

While these may represent the point at which foods lose their taste, freshness or nutritional value, they may not necessarily indicate when food is unsafe to consume. Farm Folk City Folk has a best before chart you can follow that covers how to shop and store common grocery items.

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2. Shop the aisle ends

Merchandizing experts know attractive (and usually pricier) items are often stocked on higher shelves so by dropping your sights or circling the aisle ends, you may find good savings.

Ask if your retailer has a clearance section. While these may not be visually “ideal” apples or potatoes, they’re still edible and nutritious.

In a growing number of locations, shoppers can save up to 30 percent by buying a new “Naturally Imperfect” fruit and veggie line at Loblaws-owned chain stores.

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3. Go smaller to save bigger

The other day, I stopped by a neighbourhood grocery store in New Westminster for some fresh produce. Granted, some of it was slightly bruised or wilted, but for the most part, it was fine to eat. My bill: $10.73.

Afterwards, I popped into the major supermarket nearby to compare prices. Doing the math, I calculated that I saved $14.25 to feed two people for up to a week.

For a larger family over the course of a month, significant savings could be achieved, with the added bonus of supporting an independent local business.

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