Save Food, Save Money: Meal Planning

Food waste in the United States has reached unimaginable levels. The Guardian estimates that half of all perfectly good produce is thrown away, both “upstream” at the farms and “downstream” in groceries, restaurants, and households. Reducing your personal food waste will not only help address this epidemic, but can also save you time and money! This series will provide some simple tips and tools to reduce your food waste.

save food what gets tossed

Plan Your Meals

Ready to save money and the environment? Meal planning has been proven to help you save money at the grocery store, eat healthier, and throw out less food; but how do you go from eating out every night to type-A planner? Here are a couple tools to help out:

Introducing the Guestimator! This handy tool will help you calculate how much food you need to feed any party, including those voracious teenagers and picky in-laws. With their measurements, you’ll reduce the amount of leftover ingredients that tend to rot in the back of the fridge. Plus, you’ll save money by buying only as much as you need!

For smaller family meals, you might enjoy this Meal Kit Catalog from Handpick, which makes both grocery shopping and cooking a breeze! Each kit contains a selection of yummy recipes that share basic ingredients. Take the guesswork out of grocery shopping and meal preparation and try some yummy new recipes at the same time!

meal catalog

If you like these tips for reducing personal food waste, consider getting involved in your local community effort to save edible food. Whether you’re interested in gleaning overlooked produce from local farms, starting a community composting movement, or signing a petition to ask grocery stores to redistribute leftover produce, there are plenty of ways to help!

Even your weekly grocery shopping can make a difference. Consider supporting or starting a local co-op grocery store – click here to find one near you! Since they’re run democratically by you and your neighbors, co-ops tailor their ordering and waste less food. If you live in Essex County, MA, consider becoming a member of the Merrimack Valley Food Co-op, a start up grocery co-op that will serve the Haverhill, Lawrence, Newburyport, and Methuen areas.

co ops commit

Co-ops are leaders in sustainable practices like recycling and composting, and are committed to reducing carbon output through local food distributors. Plus, many co-ops offer discounts or monthly dividends for member-owners, so you can get money back on your groceries!

However you choose to reduce food waste, it takes a community to foster change: consider sharing this article with your friends!

Veggin’ Out at SALSA Fest

The MVFC vegged out at SALSA Fest, but not like couch potatoes! Several fruits and vegetables were in attendance at last week’s SALSA Fest in Lawrence, MA, and they were all excited to talk co-ops.


The partly-cloudy weather held as Merrimack Valley Food Co-op volunteers and members handed out delicious Equal Exchange fruit bars and chatted about the benefits of a food co-op in Essex County, MA. “Despacito” played across the beautiful South Common Park, and gleeful kids ran from table to table to play games and grab goodies. We had a blast playing the “Fruits and Vegetable Game”!

suzanne with kids

New and familiar faces stopped by the tent to hear more about our upcoming events, like the upcoming Savor Series featuring the Kennedy Hill Farm, and our vision for the first food co-op in the county. We signed up 19 new people to our email list, each of whom were entered in a raffle for natural cleaning products. We are also so excited to announce a new member family. Please welcome Kendrys Vasquez and his family to the co-op!

New members to the co-op family!

New members to the co-op family!

SALSA Fest highlighted local organizations committed to community health and wellness: the perfect place to talk co-ops. Food co-ops encourage a healthy and active lifestyle by providing far more fresh, local, and organic produce options than regular grocery stores. Many food co-ops offer classes on healthy eating and nutrition, because co-ops are dedicated to the community that supports and runs them. Supporting your local food co-op not only saves you money on your healthy groceries, but uplifts and educates your community!

Thanks again to Moderno Appliance and Equal Exchange for their generous donations, and to Groundwork Lawrence for another successful SALSA Fest.

We hope to see all of you at the last Savor Series before summer, June 24th from 4-6 PM!