9 Ways to Save Money on Food
According to a study by the UK-based Waste & Resources Action Programme, each year, about one-third of food is wasted. And in America, that number is estimated at more like 40%. We all know the impact that waste and greenhouse gases have on the environment, but food waste also takes a toll on our global economic health. This problem contributes to annual spending over $400 billion. That's not very appetizing. Of course, food waste happens for various reasons. We eat out a lot, we fail to cook food before it goes bad, or we support institutions that aren't sustainable. While we're a far way off from ending the food waste epidemic, here are a few simple steps to eat more, save more, and waste less.
1. Portion control
In America, we're all about big. Big cars, big houses, big portions. But bigger is not necessarily better. When you eat out, sometimes portions are double (or even triple) the size of what you would normally eat at home. Instead of stuffing your face to clean that plate, split your meal in half and take the rest home. Not only will you feel less full, but you'll get to relive that delicious meal the next day. A lot of people know they should do this but just get overwhelmed by the restaurant experience. Plus, drinking alcohol can make us more willing to eat more. Sip water, eat, enjoy. Don't overindulge just because it's there.
2. Consider a food-delivery service
For those that don't trust themselves with portion control, it may be a wise option to try a meal-delivery service. Services like HelloFresh ship you pre-portioned ingredients to cook food at home. It's affordable, nutritious, and provides variety. You also won't have to worry about being wasteful when you have everything you need.
3. Be creative when reusing leftovers
Leftovers get a bad reputation, but some of our favorite meals involve leftovers. Instead of chucking them, take a survey of what you have in the fridge. Those peppers and onions will go nicely in a frittata. Eggs are the magic ingredient to making pretty much any leftover work. Or, you can always try a creative salad. Here are some ideas to get you inspired.
4. Don't buy more than what you need
Many shopaholics have this problem: They go into a store and totally veer off course when there's an unexpected sale. But you must complete your assigned mission. Do it the old fashioned way. Write a list and get only what you see on that list. Don't go food shopping when you're hungry, because you'll likely bring home more than you bargained for.
Do not underestimate the power of your freezer for items that you think were just never meant to be frozen. You can freeze cookie dough, bagels, and even cheese! Pasta, fruit, and soups can also be frozen. This is a great way to buy time without sacrificing flavor and quality.
6. Use the right storage
A lot of us throw stuff out because it's fuzzy or moldy. It's a good idea to not eat rotten food, we agree. But there are other ways to prevent food from going sour. Invest in good air-tight storage containers and zip-tight bags. Always write the date on something that you are stowing away, and what it is. Many of us just have dozens of unidentified foods wrapped in tin foil that we don't touch for ages.
7. Don't trust all expiration dates
If stored correctly, you'll probably be able to get a few extra days of freshness out of food past the expiration date. This is just a guideline that the manufacturer puts in place to suggest peak freshness. Just because something is not at peak freshness doesn't mean it will make you sick. For more on expiration dates, read this.
Do you have a can of cranberry sauce that you got for Thanksgiving but know you're never going to eat? Don't throw it out! Donate it to your nearest food pantry. Do a sweep of your own pantry and donate any non-perishable you don't need. It's better off in the mouths of people that will enjoy it.
9. Sharing is caring
When you've made a huge stew and need help getting through the leftovers, don't pile your plate higher. Share with the community. Invite over some friends, neighbors, or family to help you knock it down. And enjoy some quality bonding time as well.
Food waste is something we can easily reduce when employing a few simple changes. And it can not only help save the planet, but save you money in the process.
For more on how to spend less on food, click here.
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Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!