Tired of tossing food in the trash? We hate to admit it, but a good portion of our groceries end up in the garbage. Pitching the half-eaten leftovers, the berries that got moldy and spinach that turned mushy before we got around to using it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it all adds up to a lot of food waste. According to the USDA, between 30% and 40% of the U.S. food supply goes to waste, with most of it ending up in a landfill. Luckily, there are some simple strategies to help us use up more of the groceries we buy and to avoid buying excess.
- Stick to a shopping list- It sounds so simple, but just committing to buying the ingredients you know you’ll need helps keep extra food out of the kitchen and keeps your grocery bill down, according to the FDA. Choose groceries you know you can use in multiple dishes so you use them up before they go bad.
- Go for frozen- Sometimes fresh is the only way to go, like with strawberries, but frozen veggies and fruits work well in stir-fries, soups and smoothies and the FDA says they don’t lose any nutrients in the freezing process.
- Store food so it stays fresh for as long as possible- Knowing the best way to store different ingredients is important and the interactive food-storage guide at SaveTheFood.com can help.
- Eat older food first- Following a first in, first out rule lets you use things that have been around longer before they go bad. The FDA recommends putting those items front and center in the fridge and putting newer food in the back. And do a regular sweep to know what’s in there and needs to be used.
- Get creative- Swap spinach for kale if that’s what you’ve got on hand and store veggie odds and ends in the freezer until you have enough to use to make a broth. Same goes for overripe fruit, which you can freeze and make a smoothie with later.
- Don’t toss food based on expiration dates- If your milk or eggs is just a few days past the expiration date, it might still be good. Sell-by, use-by and best-by dates only tell you when it’s at its peak freshness, not if it’s safe to eat, according to the USDA. On the flip side, if it seems weird or off, pitch it, even if the date says it should still be good.