How to Waste Less Food

Flickr / .michael.newman.

Did you know that Americans spend $90 billion each year on food that never gets eaten? That 40% of our food ends up in the trash instead of our stomachs? Those are just two of the sobering statistics from an NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) report.

Luckily, it doesn't have to be this way. The United Kingdom cut down their food waste by 18% in just five years through better awareness. And you can too, with these tips from NRDC:

Shop Wisely. Plan meals, use shopping lists, buy from bulk bins, and avoid impulse buys. Don't succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need, particularly for perishable items.

Buy Funny Fruit. Many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or color are not "right". Buying these perfectly good funny fruit, at the farmer's market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.

Learn When Food Goes Bad. "Sell-by" and "use-by" dates are not federally regulated and do not indicate safety, except on certain baby foods. Rather, they are manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. Most foods can be safely consumed well after their use-by dates.

Mine Your Fridge. Websites such as can help you get creative with recipes to use up anything that might go bad soon.

Use Your Freezer. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely. Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you won’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad.

Request Smaller Portions. Restaurants will often provide half-portions upon request at reduced prices.

Eat Leftovers. Ask your restaurant to pack up your extras so you can eat them later. Freeze them if you don't want to eat immediately. Only about half of Americans take leftovers home from restaurants.

Compost. Composting food scraps can reduce their climate impact while also recycling their nutrients. Food makes up almost 13 percent of the U.S. waste stream, but a much higher percent of landfill-caused methane.

Donate. Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters. Local and national programs frequently offer free pick-up and provide reusable containers to donors.

Also check out our tips for saving food in your kids' school lunches.


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