"Households on average toss 14 percent of the food they buy"

Here's an interesting article on CNN Money about food waste in American society. Quick synopsis: Americans don't plan meals, end up wasting huge amount of food.

I constantly have this problem: We spend a lot of money on groceries, and midway through the week, we can't figure out what to eat for dinner and end up going out. Part of it is bad planning, and part of it is not spending enough time preparing food.

For example, lettuce. In the article, the author talks about a head of lettuce costing $2, and a bag of pre-chopped and washed lettuce costing $4. "Would you pay someone $2 to chop and wash your lettuce?" The answer: You're damned skippy. It takes a lot of time and effort to clean and chop lettuce. You have to get out a bowl, a cutting board, and a knife. You break off the leaves of lettuce, wash them, then cut them into pieces. When you're done, you have to clean the bowl, the cutting board, the counter, and the knife. Then you have to take out the trash. It's a lot of effort.

My solution is to buy a huge bag of the cheapy iceburg lettuce from Costco. I get a 3 pound bag for $1.79, and it has a bit of carrot and cabbage in it. The problem is that I end up throwing at least half the bag away, and that's assuming that we eat a large salad for dinner EVERY night until it goes bad. Honestly, it's a terrible terrible solution, but it's cheap and easy and I can't think of a better way to have a salad on a regular basis with little effort.

From what I've heard, the solution in other countries is to go shopping DAILY. You don't even need a refrigerator. You just walk to the local store, buy a few things for dinner, and go home and make dinner. No waste, because you eat it all right then and there. On the other hand, you get stuck with high prices on low quantities of goods.

So I guess I'm stuck shopping at Costco for now. I've been thinking of throwing some technology at the problem, and building a database of the receipes I know how to make. From there, a program randomly select some receipes, consolidate the quantities, and writes me a grocery list and meal plan.