Preventing Wasted Food

Forty percent of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted. According to the U.S. EPA, food is the single largest type of waste going to landfills and incinerators. Much of the food that is discarded in landfills is actually safe, wholesome food that could have been used to feed people. When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose and become a significant source of methane—a potent greenhouse gas. So when you are shopping and making meals, think about how you can prevent wasting food to save money, help communities, and protect the environment.

Ways to Reduce Wasted Food

Shop Smart

  • Shop your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
  • Plan your menu before you go shopping and buy only those things on your menu.
  • Buy only what you realistically need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.

Think Outside the Box

  • Be creative! If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons and beet tops can be sautéed for a delicious side dish.
  • Freeze, preserve or can surplus fruits and vegetables—especially abundant seasonal produce.

When Dining Out

  • At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them for your next meal.
  • At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.

Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away. Nutritious, safe and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need. 

Store your food properly. Check out these to learn how:

food

Fruit and Vegetable Storage Guide 
Food Waste and Storage Guide
USDA ‘FoodKeeper’ App: Your New Tool for Smart Food Storage
SaveTheFood.com
StillTasty.com
EatByDate.com
Food waste information for businesses.