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.
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.
Planning out the week can save time and reduce the chance of having to throw away food.
- Freeze items such as bread, meat, and sliced fruit until you are ready to eat them.
- Cut your time in half by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time. Learn more on how to meal prep.
- Meal Prep for Beginners
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.