The Weekly Waste Word: Like the List

At the beginning of each week, I try to give readers one tip on how to avoid food waste. Here’s this week’s advice: Make a shopping list and stick to it.

Grocery stores are masterful persuaders. Everything from the music to the lighting to the layout of a supermarket is set up to encourage you to buy more food. And chances are, it’s food you don’t need and will eventually go to waste.

Ever wonder why every supermarket has its produce section at the front? They know that enticing section, with its colors and smells will woo shoppers into impulse buys before they’ve grown tired of being in the store.

Food companies, are equally adept at getting in your head. Tactics like loud package design, buzz word use and environmental branding are common. For example, you’ll find a sea of green packaging used to pitch so-called “green” items. 

You parents know from experience that stores place child-attracting items at kids’ eye level. And the food companies, of course, have either created fun characters or employed known ones to shill their products. Today’s louder product designs present more challenges, too.

In addition to the previous ones, I often fall victim another trick–“the free snacks trap.” In-store noshing lets me stay longer and lightens my mood, both of which make me buy more than I should. 

My way past all these traps is to think of it like a game. Each time I walk into the supermarket, I think to myself: ‘You’re not gonna get me to waste both money and food.’

To inspire you, here are some examples of grocery lists. And in case you have trouble making a list, our government (Dept. of Health and Human Services) provides this detailed checklist.

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