Eat It, Don’t Toss It

Did you know that American families throw away almost 50% of their produce, either from expired food, uneaten leftovers, or spoiled produce? In dollars and cents, that translates to a family of four discarding about $1,600 worth of produce per year! So, in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrated National Nutrition Month with the theme, “Go Further with Food”, which focused on choosing healthier foods and developing habits to reduce food waste at home.

Here are more tips to help keep your money in your wallet:

Check your refrigerator and freezer before you go shopping

I make it a habit to plan my meals for the week. I take an inventory of what I have, then create a shopping list, and I stick to it. Shopping with a list prevents you from buying too much food. Plus, planning meals will save you from the nightly struggle of staring blankly into your fridge, deciding what to prepare at the end of a busy day.

Don’t forget your leftovers

Leftover Food_Pexels-105588_Keegan Evans
Make a plan for leftovers and then store them in the fridge or freezer using the FIFO method.

If you often have leftovers, designate a “leftover day” to finish them, or freeze them to use in stir-fries or soups at a later meal. Once you plan around your leftovers, you can save money and food by only buying the amount of food that can be eaten or frozen within a few days.

Properly store your food

Make a point to practice FIFO, or “First In, First Out.” Before you unpack new groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer/pantry and use these first. You’re more likely to see and use these items before they spoil or expire. Also, store leftovers in clear containers so you don’t forget to use the food.

Donate unopened food to your local food bank

Working as a food bank’s Nutrition Educator Programs Director was an eye-opener for me. I had the unfortunate opportunity of seeing the face of hunger on children, adults, and seniors living in our state. Sadly, people in America do go to sleep hungry every night. Don’t toss out good food. By donating unopened food and beverages, you can help feed the hungry and reduce the amount of wasted food.

Eat more meals together as a family

Try our family favorite Chicken Vegetable Stir Fry recipe that uses leftovers

Learn to Preserve

Drying, canning, and freezing foods are all methods you can use to make food last longer, avoid wasting food, and save you money. The University of Maryland Extension offers an array of food preservation classes through our Grow It, Eat It, Preserve It programs.

Want to learn more?

University of Maryland Extension is hosting film viewings and panel discussions! Get details and RSVP to Karen Basinger (, 410-313-1908) on these upcoming events:

  • Wasted (September 17, 2:00pm, East Columbia Library)

More tips and guides from the EPA:

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