Each year, about 30-40 percent of the United States' food supply goes to waste (FDA.gov). In 2010 alone, a staggering $161 billion of food went to waste in the USA. The good news is that there are easy steps you can take to mitigate food waste and save money. Here are some of them.
Use Your Freezer
If you happen across a great deal while out shopping (like a sale on meat), don’t feel like you have to pass it up just because it’s not in your meal plan. However, make sure you put it right in the freezer when you get home and plan on having it the next week. Besides meat, lots of different kinds of food store well in the freezer. This gives you more time to use them.
Store Food Properly
Storing your food properly will help it last longer and reduce the chances of needing to throw it away. Keep your fridge as clean and as organized as possible so you can keep track of what you have on hand. Try to keep newer items in the back and older items in the front. This can help you remember to consume items before they go bad.
Expiration dates and sell-by dates are not the same. If something is past its sell-by date, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t eat it anymore. Before throwing it out, do a quick search on the internet to see if it’s truly not safe to consume. Run audits on your storage room every few months to find what may be close to expiring; then, use those items to make your upcoming meals.
Buy Only What You Need
Planning your meals ahead of time and making lists can help ensure you don’t purchase extra food that will go to waste. To avoid buying duplicate items, take a look at your list before heading to the store and compare it to what you already have at home.
Schedule leftover nights once a week where everything in the fridge is up for grabs. Not only will this help reduce what you throw away, but it will give the cook in your family a much-needed night off.