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7 Tips to Reduce Food Waste

7 Tips to Reduce Food Waste

Do you feel like the cost of groceries keeps going up? If so, you’re not imagining it. The price of groceries has increased lately – fueled in part by a higher demand for groceries as more Americans are eating at home during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as disrupted food supply chains. In May 2020, the grocery consumer price index (CPI) was 4.8% higher than in May 2019, according to the USDA.

Since you’re shelling out more than your fair share of hard-earned money for food these days, you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. That means not wasting the food you buy.

Here are 7 tips to help reduce food waste at home:

  1. Check the temperature of your fridge and freezer. The fridge should be 40 degrees or lower and the freezer zero degrees or below to keep food safe.
  2. Learn how to safely store leftovers. Watch this video for tips on cooling food safely before storing in your fridge or freezer.
  3. Identify food that needs to be eaten soon. Set aside a designated area in your fridge for foods that will go bad in a few days so you know to eat those first. Put open packages or those nearing their shelf life in the front of your pantry.
  4. Get creative. Find ways to use leftovers or foods that will soon go bad. Add to casseroles, smoothies, soups or salads.
  5. Don’t forget your freezer. When you don’t think you’ll eat food before it will go bad, freeze it. Many foods can be frozen so you can save them for a later date.
  6. Change your buying habits. If you often find yourself throwing out food, buy less. Use a shopping list and stick to it so you don’t make as many impulse purchases. Don’t buy sale items in bulk unless you know you can safely store them or use before the expiration date.
  7. Don’t go by dates on packages. There is no universally accepted dating criteria for food packaging. Even if food has a “best if used by” or “sell by” date, it doesn’t mean it’s not still okay to eat after the date – use your best judgment to decide if the food is still good before throwing it out by looking for changes in color, flavor, smell or texture. It is estimated that 20% of food waste is due to confusion about dates on packaging, according to the FDA.

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