Tasty Trash: The $55 million Squawkfox Food Waste Challenge is a series aimed at helping your family save up to $1,500 this year by reducing food waste. The environment may also thank us. To start from the beginning, read the introduction.

Don’t let me stand behind you in line at the grocery checkout — I might just calculate your Fluff Factor.

That’s exactly what happened to the fellow in line ahead of me when I watched his grocery items rolling down the conveyor.


me: Hey, what’s in that crazy jar of Fluff?

him: Oh, that’s just marshmallow spread. I put it on toast for breakfast.

Slightly grossed out by the idea of consuming edible ‘Fluff’ in the wee hours of the morning and lacking the social grace that keeps most people quiet in grocery checkout lineups, I pressed on…

me: And those orange cheezy poofs, the tater tots, and the ice cream — where’s all your nutrition? Don’t you buy any actual food at the grocery store?

The poor guy looked perplexed. I’m sure if we were having this conversation on Facebook he would have defriended me by now.

him: I have to go now.

He darted from the store, probably to remove himself from my awesomeness. No wonder I never dated cute guys like this in school — none of them knew how to shop for groceries. I would have starved.

Anyhoo, there’s a point to all this. And yes, one of these points is to AVOID ME LIKE THE PLAGUE at the supermarket. But the real reason here is to take close consideration of how you spend your food budget.

Are you stocking your cart with food or Fluff?

What is Fluff?

Fluff is all the superfluous stuff you can chew on — but likely shouldn’t swallow — sold at the supermarket. Fluff is also the purchases you did not plan for AND don’t need. Hello, planning ahead using a grocery shopping list?

Fluff can be big or small. Everything from a tiny stuffed toy to a value-sized bag of potato chips.

Costco shoppers are probably the most familiar with Fluff. How many times have you shopped at Costco for a box of chicken only to return home with a solar panel and a garden shed? Yeah, don’t do this!

The problem with Fluff

Fluff is a wondrous waste. The more edible Fluff you buy, the more Fluffy stuff you eat instead of real food. Research shows we’re throwing away around 25% of our grocery haul every year, so we’re tossing out our Fluffy food purchases too — that’s a lot of unnecessary food waste.


Fluff doesn’t (really) contribute to your happiness.

Fluff costs you money.

Calculate your Fluff Factor

I asked Carl to express Fluff in a mathematically precise way so you guys could calculate your personal Fluff Factor. He came up with this infallible algebraic expression:

Fluff Factor Equation

I immediately slapped Carl on his summation symbol, and defriended him on Facebook.

This one is Squawkfox friendly. Seriously.

Fluff Factor

Here’s a Fluff Factor example:

Total grocery bill: $78.23

Fluffy items purchased:

  • Jar of edible marshmallow spread (Fluff): $2.97
  • Celebrity gossip magazine (contains Fluff): $3.99
  • Toy animal (stuffed with Fluff): $5.49

Total Fluff Dollars Spent: $12.45
Fluff Factor: 16%

BOTTOM LINE: If your family spends $7,000 on groceries annually, a 16% Fluff Factor costs you $1,120 each year.

I dare you to total the Fluff Factor on your last grocery bill. Results may shock you.

Combating Fluff

You have the power to combat Fluff. It only takes three little steps. Promise.

STEP ONE: Make a meal plan. Planning is key, and sticking with it can help cut your grocery bill on non-Fluff items too. Check out Meal Planning: Save time and money in your kitchen for a free meal planner download and the details.

STEP TWO: Create a grocery shopping list. Straying from your list will puff your Fluff Factor. Download our free grocery shopping list for a little help in the supermarket.

STEP THREE: Calculate your Fluff Factor. After every grocery haul, be brave and tally your total Fluff Factor. Aim to get it down to ZERO for maximum savings.

Happy de-Fluffing, and remember to run if you see me at your supermarket!