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15 ways to stop wasting food

May 17, 2018—Chew on this: You might've thrown away almost a pound of food today. That's the average amount of food each American wastes in a single day.

Wasted food is more than money down the drain. It means less food for people who are facing hunger. And packing landfills with food creates more methane gas in the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. Wasting food also uses more energy and resources because more produce needs to be grown, manufactured, transported and sold.

How to cut down on food waste

Avoiding food waste could be as simple as turning down the temp in your fridge or freezer and making a list before you shop. It's good for your finances and the world too. Try these 15 ways to make food last longer:

  1. Store fruits and vegetables in different bins. Keep bananas, apples and tomatoes separate to avoid them spoiling faster.
  2. Keep your fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and your freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit to help your food last.
  3. Prevent mold on berries by washing them just before you eat them.
  4. Add ripe produce to soups, casseroles, stir-fries, baked goods, pancakes or smoothies.
  5. Look for ways to use scraps you usually throw away. Try making croutons out of stale bread or sautéing beet and carrot tops as a side dish.
  6. Declare a leftovers night so you're sure to finish your extras before they go bad.
  7. Put food scraps in a home compost bin.
  8. Raid your fridge and pantry and use up the food you already have before buying more.
  9. Plan your meals before heading to the supermarket, and buy only what you need.
  10. Choose canned fruits and vegetables that won't spoil if you don't eat them right away (keep it healthy and look for varieties low in sodium and added sugar).
  11. Avoid buying bulk if you're not sure you'll use all of the item before it expires.
  12. Stock your freezer with produce and meat you won't be using soon.
  13. Keep an eye on expiration dates when you're planning meals.
  14. Don't mistake a "sell by" date as an expiration date. Go by the "use by" date to know if you should throw something away. "Best if used by" is what to follow for best flavor or quality.
  15. Donate what you haven't touched to a local food bank.

Healthier diet, more food waste?

Who are the biggest offenders when it comes to throwing away food? According to research, it's people who aim to cook and eat healthier meals.

A study found that people with higher-quality diets wasted a larger amount of food compared with people with lower-quality diets. Fruits and vegetables made up the largest percentage of food that's thrown away. Dairy and meat came in second and third.

The key isn't to stop aiming so high with your diet. Just be conscious of waste while you're reaching for foods that are good for your health.

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