may6columnThe Monroe on a Budget column runs Tuesdays in The Monroe News. Here is this week’s installment.

By Paula Wethington / Monroe on a Budget

Have you ever tossed out food that was forgotten in the pantry until it went past the expiration date?

You can avoid doing that by not allowing food inventory to get beyond what you can track. Some people use binders or spreadsheets to monitor of what is in their pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Others mark the expiration dates with a big marker on the top of a package to help with their inventory rotation.

My tracking is not that detailed. I just take a good look at what’s in the kitchen two or three a year to analyze what we have been eating and are likely to eat soon.

During that process, I usually end up tossing a few partial containers of foods, such as salad dressings or spice bottles, that expired before we finish the package or container. But I also find unopened goods that are still in date, but we are not likely to eat.

Those now surplus items become my food pantry donations.

My last drop offs on behalf of a charity drive in January involved three shopping bags of assorted groceries such as a huge can of oatmeal, never opened. I had bought it a terrific sale with the intention of making oatmeal cookies during the Christmas season. While I did make oatmeal cookies, I didn’t make so many oatmeal cookies that I needed both canisters I bought.

This week is another opportunity to make a food pantry donation, as the 22nd Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive takes place Saturday May 10. This campaign is a partnership between the Campbell Soup Company and the National Association of Letter Carriers. More than 74.4 million pounds of food donations were contributed during the 2013 drive.

Participation in the Stamp Out Hunger campaign is simple: Set out boxed or canned food next to your mailbox before the time of regular mail delivery Saturday. The letter carriers will pick up the food, and then make arrangements to get the donations sent to food pantries in your community. Items specifically requested include canned soup, canned vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, rice and cereal.

This campaign is timed for just before the start of summer, as that is a time of high demand for food banks.

For information, go to the campaign’s web site at or find it on Facebook at

On another topic: I have a follow up to my April 1 column, “Shop Smarter, Double Coupons are Fading Away.”

Kroger’s Michigan division, which includes the stores in Monroe, Frenchtown Township, Dundee and Brownstown Township, will end its double coupon deals on May 14, according to a statement issued Friday by the corporate office. That promotion doubled the value of paper manufacture coupons that were 50 cents or less.

The Kroger stores in Lambertville and Toledo, which are in the Columbus division, stopped double coupon deals last week.

Readers may contact Paula Wethington at or (734) 240-5745.


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