Minimizing Wasted Food At Home

According to ReFED, residents are responsible for approximately 43% of all the wasted food that is generated in the U.S. (i.e., roughly 25 million tons per year). In his book, American Wasteland, Jonathan Bloom estimates that American families do not eat approximately 25% of the food they buy. For a family of four, that’s roughly $1,400 to $2,300 per year.

With a few habitual changes and some dedication, families can decrease their grocery expenses by minimizing the amount of food they waste at home. Some of the most commonly suggested at-home strategies include:

1.) Manage Groceries Wisely

Reducing wasted food and saving money starts with grocery habits. Below is a list of suggestions for smart shopping and food management:  

  • Plan weekly menus. Making a plan at the beginning of the week will remove the pressure of daily meal decision making. Check out Save the Food's "10 Easy Tips for Meal Plannig"
  • Shop strategically. Go to the store with a plan and a list in hand so you’ll know which ingredients to get and how much of each you’ll need. Check out Save the Food's "Shopping Guidelines".
  • Use leftover ingredients. Check out the "Amazing Waste" cookbook and Love Food Hate Waste for recipes designed to use up "ugly" produce, miscellaneous scraps, and leftovers.
  • Relearn expiration dates. Did you know that date labels are not regulated and are meant to indicate freshness not safety? Learn more with Save the Food's "Deciphering Dates on Products"
  • Use best storage techniques. Knowing best storage techniques for various foods will maximize their shelf-life. Download the USDA's FoodKeeper App or check out Love Food Hate Waste's "A-Z of Food Storage"
  • Learn to preserve. This is a fun and effective way to enjoy the tastes of summer in the dead of winter. Learn how from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

2.) Donate Non-perishables & Garden Produce

Help your neighbors in need by donating non-perishables from your pantry and surplus produce from your garden via AmpleHarvest's step-by-step instructions. Contact your local municipality or food donation agencies for other donation opportunities. 

3.) Lend A Hand

Volunteers are an integral component of food recovery systems, providing much needed services to help connect surplus food with those who need it most. Contact your local municipality, food pantry, or meal center to see how you can get involved. Try starting with AmpleHarvestFeeding America, or a food donation agency near you. 

4.) Compost Food Scraps

Ultimately, there will always be food scraps that won’t get consumed (e.g., eggshells, coffee grounds, banana peels, etc.). Instead of paying to have those materials produce methane in a landfill, compost them at home with leaves and other landscape debris to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment for your garden, trees, plants, and landscaping. Learn composting basics from the Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI).

Additional Residential Strategies

Spoiler Alert: