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While food waste is a complex problem with losses occurring throughout the supply chain, a large portion is generated by consumers at home. On average, a family of four spends $1,500 on food that is thrown away each year. There are many simple actions that you can take at home to reduce the amount of food — and money — you throw away.

  • Use it. Don't Lose it.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Shop your refrigerator.
  • Take a list.
  • Buy local.
  • Do the FIFO.
  • Store it right.
  • Understand the dates.
  • Donate. Donate. Donate.
  • Ask for a doggie bag.
  • Get creative with leftovers.
  • Let it rot. Compost.
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The key is to shop smart, prep smart and store smart.

  • Buy reusable food containers to keep at home — share them with guests to reduce leftover waste.
  • Keep a reusable food container in your office, car or wherever works best for you. Then, you can save what you can't eat for a snack later.
  • Make sure your knives are sharp. Dull knives lead to sloppy trimming — which makes for excess food waste..
  • Set aside two hours each weekend to prep items that might otherwise go bad in your fridge. Clean and cut carrots, bell peppers and celery for snacks for the week — even if you don't eat them as snacks, you can end the week with a quick stir fry.
  • Make a batch of soup/dinners for busy weeknights and freeze portions.
  • Make the freezer your friend. Learn best practices for freezing or do a web search for individual items as needed.
  • Use an online recipe generator to find recipes based on the ingredients in your fridge and pantry (,,
  • Shop bulk bins for experimental items so you don't end up with a shelf full of half-eaten bags of food like lentils, rice and quinoa.
  • Buy local produce — it will stay fresh longer.



The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into law to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need. The legislation offers protection for these donors from liability when donating food in good faith.

  • Donate leftover food to food banks or shelters.
  • Donate food to farmers for animal feed.



If you end up with wasted food, you can recycle what you don't eat. Compost is a free fertilizer and mulch you can make in your own backyard.

  • Buy a compost bin — check with your local county recycling office for possible assistance.
  • Build your own compost bin.
  • Keep a small bin or bowl in the kitchen for food waste to transport to your bigger bin.
  • Use three parts brown (carbon: leaves, mulch, brown paper) to one part green (nitrogen: green clippings, food waste) when adding to your compost bin.