Summer is here. Everyone has the best intentions to eat better. You go to the farmers markets, get fresh fruit and vegetables, then go home and put them in the refrigerator.
A couple weeks later, you open what you think is a tub of butter only to find a mushy old cucumber or peach. Next, you start cleaning out your refrigerator, throwing away more than you expected. Now, all your healthy food and sale items end up being wasted money in the trash.
Most households throw away about 12 percent of all the food they bring home and 25 percent of the vegetables. The annual tab, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, runs from $1,400 to $2,300 for the average family of four.
If you check my fridge shelves, you will see many repurposed butter or cottage cheese containers being used to store leftovers. To my husband's frustration, he will pull out a container thinking it is butter only to find a mystery inside.
Go out and buy yourself some good clear containers. If you can see what is inside and it looks good, you are more likely to eat it. Use those new containers to focus on fridge organization: group all dairy together, put leftovers in one group and use your fridge and freezer drawers for what they are meant to be used for.
My grandmother was famous for being able to prepare a meal for grandchildren and their friends who showed up unannounced for dinner. I learned to keep a full fridge, freezer and pantry. I don't believe in stockpiling, but I do believe in not paying retail for pantry staples such as ketchup, peanut butter and salad dressing.
This summer, initiate a pantry challenge by feeding your family for a week with only the food on hand.
Don't be afraid of spotty bananas and bruised apples. They are still good. Most of us throw these away instead of using them another way, like in a smoothie. If you have an item and you don't know whether it is still good to eat, check out the Fayette County Extension office website fayette.ca.uky.edu or call (859) 257-5582, and they will help you find your answer.
During your pantry challenge, I promise you will find many items bought with good intentions for that special recipe that are now cluttering your shelf. When buying a one-time use item, check out the bulk section in your store, buying only what you need. Spend a little time to be organized. Being better prepared for shopping plus meal planning will ensure you are not wasting food or money.
■ July 12 is Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. Anyone who is fully dressed as a cow will receive a free meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner). Anyone partically dressed as a cow will receive a free entrée. http://bit.ly/iUlakT
■ Right now when you order $15 or more worth of food and drinks from Papa John's online, and use promotional code SUMMER, and you will get a free pizza. http://bit.ly/124QCg0
■ Join the Home Depot Garden Club and receive via email a coupon for $5 off a $50 purchase; you will also get more than $300 worth of coupons emailed to you throughout the year. http://thd.co/XcKtwB
■ Grab some new Target Mobile coupons for produce, meat and more when you text FRESH to 827438.
■ On July 13, celebrate Krispy Kreme's 76th birthday. If you buy one dozen original glazed doughnuts, you can get another dozen for 76 cents.
■ The Ibotta app is an easy way to save money on purchases from chain grocery stores, drugstores and department stores such as Wal-Mart and Target. Through July 31, with the Summer Fun in the Sun Bonus, you get six offers that total $21. Each offer redeemed unlocks the next, higher-paying offer. Go to ibotta.com or search for ibotta in your smartphone's app store.
■ Get a free Snickers ice cream bar coupon when you like Thornton's Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/HRyude. Like P.F. Changs on its Facebook page to get a coupon for $10 off an order of $40 or more: http://on.fb.me/rlOYbW.
Deborah Morris' weekly column, The Fru-Gal, can help you save money. Feel free to share tips on The Fru-Gal blog at Kentucky.com/living and visit her website, Fru-gal-friends.com.