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40% Of Food In America Is Wasted! Tips To Cut Food Waste

Updated on June 19, 2013
Fruit and veggie scraps destined for our compost bin rather than the landfill.
Fruit and veggie scraps destined for our compost bin rather than the landfill. | Source

According to a recent press release from the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that American's waste 40% of the US food supply, valued at $65 billion. In these economic times, that a particularly tough stat to swallow.

How Much Food Is Your Family Wasting?

The average American family of four ends up throwing away an equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food, according to the NRDC. For a single person, that averages about $570. Personally, I can think of a lot of things that I would rather do with that money than literally throw it in the trash.

A lot of this waste comes from over purchasing, food spoilage, plate waste and uneaten leftovers.

Tips For Wasting Less Food

  • When dining out, don't be shy about taking home leftovers. Of course, you can't just bring the leftovers home and let them go bad in your fridge. You actually have to eat them!
  • If you don't want to take a doggy bag home, request a smaller portion. Restaurants will often provide half-portions (or "light" portions) upon request at reduced prices.
  • Cook only what you need.
  • Freeze leftovers that you won't have time to eat.
  • Don't toss blemished produce just because it's not "attractive".
  • Invest in good freezer storage containers that will help preserve your food longer.
  • Plan meals & use shopping lists. We started planning our menus around what we have on hand and it's saved us from throwing out tons of leftovers.
  • Don't buy more than you need simply because it's a better price per ounce - they can actually be more expensive overall if much of that food is discarded.
  • Donate Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters.
  • That decorative pumpkin you got at Halloween? Don't toss come November, cook it. We found my son's favorite casserole when we googled recipes for the turban squash we had on the front porch with our Thanksgiving decor.
  • Only fill your plate with what you plan to eat. It's better to go back for seconds than to overfill your plate then end up tossing half of it in the trash.
  • Use the whole tomato - my husband cuts a big slide off the top and bottom of a tomato, but it's perfectly good fruit, so why not sure it all! Same for lots of fruits and veggies.

Creative Uses for Leftovers

Like most of us, I'm guilty of bringing home leftovers only to toss them in the trash a week later. My family has really been making an effort over the past year to reduce our food waste. This means using any leftovers, even a strip of chicken, a single slice of bacon, or ripe over bananas. Here are some of our tips:

  • Soups - soups are very forgiving for leftovers. You can toss in almost anything - veggies, meat, pasta, rice, beans, etc.
  • Omelets & Frittatas - This is great for small amounts of leftovers (and a great way to get veggies with your breakfast)
  • Smoothies - Freeze your leftover fruit for fruit smoothies
  • Fried Rice - Toss in chopped leftover meat, such as ham or a little steak and whatever veggies you have on hand
  • Pasta - Saute any leftover veggies and add them to your pasta sauce
  • Pizza - It's amazing how pizza makes almost any leftovers taste like a whole new meal

Other Reasons to Cut Food Waste

Still not ready to reduce your food waste. Consider this other stat from the NRDC: just a 15 percent reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough food to feed 25 million Americans annually. Wow!

There are also environmental impacts - we waste tons of freshwater to grow the food that just ends up in the landfill. And, there's the energy spent transporting the food from the farm to the factory to your table.

I hope something in this article motivates you to reduce the amount of food you waste and gives you some good tips to accomplish that.

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