Like most people, I’m not a fan of wasting money. I recently discovered my household is wasting money on food. There are times I’ve rummaged through our refrigerator or pantry looking for something to eat only to find food that’s expired or near the expiration date. In some cases, these are items I completely forgot we purchased. Other times I’m confused by the wording used on food labels. “Use by” or “Sell by” are used inconsistently and have been linked to misinterpretation causing consumers to prematurely waste food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Americans typically throw out 21% of their food, with fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, meat, milk and eggs topping the list of the most wasted foods.” Furthermore, The Fresno Bee reports “the average family of four wastes between $1350 and $2275 a year in food.” These stats are surprising and suggest we are wasting a lot of food and money every year. After I read this information, I had to try and estimate how much my family wasted last year. In 2013, we spent just over $5,850 on groceries for our family of two, soon to be three with a baby on the way. If we tossed 10%-20% of the food we purchased in 2013 alone, that translated into a loss between $585 and $1170 for my family. That’s a lot of cash to simply throw away. How can families stop wasting food and money? I believe our iOS devices can help break some wasteful bad habits we’ve developed over the years.
When I put into perspective how much money my family could be wasting on food I had to try and figure out a way to stop it. Immediately I started brainstorming ideas using my iPhone or iPad to help us break wasteful habits. iOS devices have helped millions of people organize and prioritize their lives in many ways; I knew there had to be an application out there to help avoid wasting money on food. After searching through the iOS App Store, I found Freshbox in the Food & Drink section. It appears to be exactly what I was looking for. This application can put my iOS devices to work in our kitchen and hopefully save us some money in the process.
Freshbox gives users the ability to record the shelf life of food they’ve purchased and also receive reminders when an item is nearing expiration. When I receive reminders about food we need to use, we intend to investigate ways to include it in a meal or rearrange meals to ensure something doesn’t go to waste. If numerous items are nearing expiration, we can try and find recipes where a bulk of those items can be used. Currently I am trying to find an iOS application allowing users to input ingredients they would like to use to create a recipe. If anyone knows of an application like this please let me know.
There are a couple of obstacles I see getting in the way of our success. Entering all the food and expiration dates is going to be a daunting task. Therefore, I decided I will start entering information on food we purchase from this point forward. Having to go through the refrigerator and pantry will be overwhelming and I’m afraid I will lose interest quickly and give up. Another obstacle I need to overcome is the fact that my wife does most of the grocery shopping and I can only go with her when our schedules permit. We will have to try and make sure our grocery store trips are together more often to ensure all items are entered into Freshbox. I feel the easiest way to get everything into Freshbox will be as soon as we put it in our cart at the grocery store. At least this way it won’t seem like such a daunting task at home.
Results from this experiment will probably take a few months. Shelf life for quite a few items we currently have in our kitchen are well into 2014. With spring coming up, I know we will get good use out of Freshbox on fruits and vegetables. These items, at least for us, are easy to forget about since they are in the drawers of the refrigerator. I’ll post updates on how things are going and hopefully I can find an iOS application soon for recipes. It will be interesting to see what I will be able to put together for a meal and at the same time give my wife a break from cooking. She should probably add antacid tablets to our upcoming grocery shopping list.