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Avocados Or 5 Dollar Bill?

June 15, 2011 · 104 comments

in Money Saving Tips, Personal Finance

I was cleaning up the kitchen the other day when I saw three avocados sitting on the counter, drying up before my very eyes.

As I glanced down, I didn’t think of them as avocados anymore.  Instead, I saw them as a five dollar bill that was going to be thrown out.

My dried-up, unused avocados

That image really frustrated me.  So many times I have cleaned out the fridge and thrown out old cucumbers and expired yogurt. However, I never really thought about the food in terms of an exact dollar amount.  In this case, I remembered that those avocados were purchased at the price of 3 for 5 dollars.  Therefore, it was easy to visualize  tossing money literally into the garbage when I saw the fruit was no longer usable.

Money Saving Tip:

Calculate the amount of money wasted next time you clean out the refrigerator.  I am not telling you to deduct a fraction of the price of leftover sour cream sitting at the bottom of the container.  However, if a bag of apples goes bad, don’t just toss it.  Visualize reaching into your wallet, taking out three dollars, and tossing that money right into the trash.  Perhaps if you truly associate money with what you are throwing out, it will teach you to go through the refrigerator every day or so and try using up what may soon spoil or expire.  This exercise may also make you think twice before you spend on an item in the first place.

What is the most expensive item you have had to throw out because it was no longer edible?  Do you end up throwing out much food each week?



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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Niki June 15, 2011 at 10:22 am

I really do make a conscious effort to go through our fridge once a week. I hate wasting food/money.

I also try to bake/throw something together if something is close to the verge. That means a lot of apple cakes or orange bread, but really is that a bad thing?


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

Niki, I try to do the same things. I have gotten really good with freezing bananas to be used in smoothies later. If only avocados could be frozen…


Nicole June 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

You sure you don’t see those as delicious guacamole? So long as they’re not moldy…

Once my parents’ dog got a fully prepared pork roast. There was much sadness.

I bet we have some sad cucumbers in the crisper…


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

I totally see avocados as guacamole as it is one of my favorite foods. However, I cannot stand when avocados are too mushy and brown inside.

Sad cucumbers can be very scary. It is amazing how they turn into water. Slimy, mushy, green water.


Nicole June 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm

perhaps you have family members who aren’t so picky?


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I am the one that likes guac the most…


No Debt MBA June 15, 2011 at 10:55 am

Even if they’re no good for guac any more you could try mixing it in with rice and beans – it gives them a really creamy texture. I wish avocados were cheaper – I’d eat them every day if I could.

We’re bad about going through the fridge on a regular basis but we’re pretty good about not letting things go to waste and salvaging what we can.


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

MBA- that is a good idea to mix with rice and beans, I have never done that before. I will have to go look for a recipe.


Jeff @ Sustainable life blog June 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

I’d have to say that I hate this about as much as you do. Composting helps ease my fears ,but I still dont want to pay $5 for worm food.


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:46 am

I don’t know if you can compost an avocado with that giant pit and all.

My kids just made a compost bin this past weekend. I am learning, and it is kind of rewarding to put things in the bin instead of the garbage!


MoneyCone June 15, 2011 at 11:11 am

Kris, that’s actually an excellent tip! As a nation, we waste a lot of food! Visualizing money being thrown out is a good way to keep a tab on waste.


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

I hate wasting food so much. I hate even more when I buy fruit and don’t notice there are moldy raspberries on the bottom or whatever, then I feel totally ripped off.

I am truly going to try and be better at this. Seeing that wasted five dollars really got to me.


krantcents June 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Since my wife prepares weekly menus, we avoid a lot of waste. We also use leftovers for lunches which is economical and avoids waste. BTW, the avocados could be used for guacamole! Yum!


Everyday Tips June 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Unfortunately, they are past the point of being used in guacamole, at least for the guacamole I like…


Crystal @ BFS June 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm

I nearly cried when we threw out a whole, forgotten bag of grapes once…they were about $5-$7 and got hidden behind the pickles or something. I would estimate that we throw out at least $15 of food a month, which is actually (and sadly) a huge improvement over last year….


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Oh yikes, grapes are so expensive, I probably would have cried. Or maybe I would have stomped all over them and made some wine, even though I hate wine.

Unfortunately, I probably throw away more than 15 dollars worth of food each month… 🙁


Barb Friedberg June 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I feel your pain. I sometimes even overreact to waste. But-in the scope of things, mistakes happen, and no one is perfect! Sometimes you gotta throw things out and move on!


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Barb, life has gotten too busy and I have thrown away too many things. My recent lack of organization is getting costly. This weekend, I am implementing my plan to not waste (much) anymore! Then I will move on!


Squirrelers June 15, 2011 at 7:49 pm

You’re so right about looking at wasted food as money down the drain. I think everybody wastes some food, and it’s an area that can be a decent savings category for people who diligently refocus on it. Instead of people spending hours making their own paper towels or whatever, maybe just actually eating what we buy is an easier way to save?


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Good point about the paper towels Squirrel. I am excited about my new plan to pay closer attention to my food.


101 Centavos June 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I’m with you one hundred and one percent on this one. Throwing away food is one of my all-time pet peeves. So wasteful, and so unnecessary.


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:18 pm

and unfortunately, I have been so busy that things have gotten disorganized and I throw out more things than I should.

I am putting a stop to that now. My avocados really taught me a lesson.


Lola June 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I have to admit I’m not as sharp on pantry management as I should be, but oh well! It was actually not much of a problem when my kids were home – food just disappeared, no problem.

I have to laugh, though, when I remember how my mom used to push the somewhat past prime foodstuffs on us kids with “Eat this – it’s going bad!”


Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Yikes, my pantry is another story altogether. I just had to throw away a couple boxes of cereal just the other day.

My goal this weekend is to clean the pantry out and also practice better pantry management.


First Gen American June 16, 2011 at 6:19 am

Very good tip. This is how I got babci to stop buying extra food for my family that we couldn’t eat. I attempted to throw a $20 bill out the window of my car while she was in it. She thought I was insane but that really is what happens every week if you buy more than you need.

I don’t have that much food go bad anymore now that I have 2 kids. They are like little eating machines. If I had a $1 for every time I heard them say “I’M HUNGRY” I’d be rich.


Kris June 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm

First Gen, I saw your story about Babci, and I think that was a great method to get her attention. (Believe it or not, this story was already written when I read your post. We are quite often on the same wavelength.)

Kids are always hungry for easy things like Goldfish. However, if they have to slice a cucumber or something, then there is ‘nothing to eat around here’. Of course, yours are too little to use knives, but just making a generic statement.


First Gen American June 17, 2011 at 6:33 am

Yeah, we sometimes offer them fruit that they’re not in the mood for (they’ll always take berries or citrus, but sometimes turn their nose up at bananas or apples.). They say, no, I’m hungry for something different..then we say, I guess you’re not hungry then. Then I get the FINE I’LL TAKE THE STINKIN BANANA.

We definitely are on the same wavelength. It’s a little scary sometimes.


Suba @ Wealth Informatics June 16, 2011 at 9:52 am

I might be weird but to me they seem perfectly fine, lol. Mix them up with rice, beans/lentils, tomato, onion, little jalapeño, a dash of lemon and some spices… my lunch is ready 🙂

But I do admit I am guilty of wasting food. I buy stuff with the full intention of eating healthier the coming week and end up eating the same old stuff – plus with all dried up vegetables. I have to get better. I think I am doing much better now, but I could def. improve. I am good with pantry though.


Kris June 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Suba, I do the same thing. I will be shopping and think “oh this will be really good for me”. Then it ends up sitting there, just waiting to be used. Now that it is summer though, we won’t be throwing out much food since all 3 kids will be home all day.

Trust me, the avocados were not usable. CPR could not have saved them.


Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager June 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm

We throw out a lot of milk in my apartment and I’m pretty sure I killed my lettuce plants already…

I’m sure you can still make guacamole with those avocados!


Kris June 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm

We threw out milk before we had kids, but now, I end up running out usually.

Did you plant lettuce? It has been an odd spring. It has been either pouring or drought it seems.

Those avocados were past their prime, that is for sure. I did cut one open and it didn’t smell so good…


Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager June 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Yeah. It’s been raining non stop or 70+ degrees out. My lettuce can’t take the manic weather.


South County Girl June 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm

We grocery shop once a week to force us to eat whats in the house. If we forget things at the store, we do without them so we don’t pick up anything extra on accident.

If we run out of something, it means we eat something else in the house that we already have.

This has helped us a whole lot with not wasting food. 🙂


Kris June 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I should pretend I can’t go to the store, unless I need milk, bread or eggs!


Omar Platt March 7, 2012 at 1:27 am

I totally see avocados as guacamole as it is one of my favorite foods. However, I cannot stand when avocados are too mushy and brown inside.


Kris March 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I am often shocked at stores that try to even see those mushy, dried up old avocados!


Courtney Lewis April 6, 2012 at 7:36 am

I was cleaning up the kitchen the other day when I saw three avocados sitting on the counter, drying up before my very eyes.As I glanced down, I didn’t think of them as avocados anymore. Instead, I saw them as a five dollar bill that was going to be thrown out.


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