Food waste reduction tips

Planning beforehand can reduce the amount of food you waste at the end of the week.

  • Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and only buy the ingredients you need for those meals.
  • Include quantities on your shopping list to keep from buying too much.
  • Keep a running list of foods that are frequently enjoyed in your house.
  • Check your refrigerator and pantry when making your shopping list to avoid buying items you already have.
  • Order only what you can finish at restaurants, or plan to take home leftovers for a future meal.

Storage Tips

Storing your produce in the right place and at the right temperature can reduce the change of waste.

  • Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables.
  • Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves and store fruits and vegetables in separate bins.
  • Wait to wash berries until you are ready to eat them to prevent mold.
  • Store fruits and vegetables at the right temperature to ensure freshness.
  • When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge, freezer, or pantry, and put new products in the back. This is the First In, First Out plan.
  • Additional tips for safe food storage and preservation are available from USDA at https://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/resources/consumers.htm.

Prep Tips

Planning out the week can save time and reduce the chance of having to throw away food.

Food-product Dating Tips

Understand what food product dates mean and when they may indicate food is no longer safe to consume.

  • There are two types of product dating that you will see:
    • Open Dating – a calendar date applied by the manufacturers or retailer to tell you the period of time that the food will be at its best quality.
    • Closed Dating – a code that consists of a series of letters and/or numbers applied by manufacturers to identify the date and time of production.

  • These are some common phrases used on food labels and what they mean:

    • “Best if Used By/Before” – indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
    • “Sell-By” – date that tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management. It is not a safety date.
    • “Use-By” – date that is recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula.

Additional information on food product dating and food safety is available from USDA.