How To Reduce Food Waste

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Shorter Version

Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Did you know that Americans waste about 31 percent of edible foods? This is enough food waste to fill the Rose Bowl stadium of 90,000 seats every day. Most of this food ends up in landfills which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and effects climate change. The issue is beyond just America. It occurs worldwide with over two billion tons of food wasted globally per year. That’s enough to feed almost two billion people! In the words of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics…

It’s time to “feed people, not landfills!”

The extra perks!

Not only will reducing food waste help limit certain environmental changes, but it saves you money and helps your local community. Purchasing the exact amount of food that you will eat helps you save because you are most likely purchasing less food than normal (that means no impulse purchases and less eating out!). Learning where you can donate safe, edible foods that would otherwise be wasted helps feed food-insecure areas of your community. These areas consist of households that are unable to feed each person enough food to be healthy (learn more about food insecurity here). The Feeding America program fights food insecurity by donating 4.3 billion meals around the U.S. per year. Many other food donation organizations also help get these donated items to food deserts around the world.

We can all help that cause!

Try some of these

Additional methods to reduce food waste involve a variety of lifestyle habits such as grocery shopping, food prep and production, food storage, and dining out. But these changes to reduce food waste require both individuals and corporations to take action. Let’s take a quick look at some the changes you can make at home to have an impact on food waste:

  • Plan your meals and make a shopping list. Account for any social activities where you will be dining out. This will require you to purchase less food for home. Then, stick to your list at the store.
  • Shop your refrigerator and freezer first. Take inventory of what you already have on hand so you don’t overbuy.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy the “imperfect” produce. It might not be pretty, but it’s still edible and nutritious!
  • Understand food labels and product dates. Learn more about that here.
  • Store foods correctly and at the proper temperature.
  • Use the First In, First Out (FIFO) method. Bring older items that need to be eaten first to the front of the shelf and place newly purchased items behind them.
  • Donate any excess foods (it happens every now and then) to a food pantry.
  • Love your leftovers! Make meals using your leftovers (casseroles, quiche, soups, or stir-fries) or freeze them before they spoil.

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Actionable Steps


Read the longer version

To learn more, read these articles reviewed by our professionals to be the best on the topic: Reducing Food Waste at Home by the Environmental Protection Agency, Tips to Reduce Food Waste by the USDA, get quick facts & tips from Eat Right’s Reducing Food Waste infographic, and dig deeper into the facts with Today’s Dietitian’s Reducing Food Waste.


Take the quiz

Take the Food Waste quiz to see where you stand today and learn how to make changes based on your specific results.


Make these recipes

Whip up some recipes at home that help to reduce food waste. Try some of these ideas from Feeding America or throw in your extra veggies to this Bean Soup.


Try an app

Use the FoodKeeper App to help you store foods properly and get the most out of your groceries. This app also gives tips for safe cooking!


Use your local food donation centers

Befriend your local food donation centers like a food bank or a community food pantry. Take the next step and volunteer with these organizations to learn more and give back!


Do the USDA Food Waste Challenge!

Inspire your company or volunteer organization to join the USDA’s Food Waste Challenge!

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About the Author

shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Hi, I’m Shannon! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Culinary Coach, and Personal Trainer. After dedicating over 8 years to the corporate wellness world, I began my own nutrition practice. Chef Shannon Nutrition focuses on plant-based nutrition and culinary coaching. My passion for culinary nutrition grew when I worked as a cooking instructor for a culinary entertainment company. After several years as an instructor and event coordinator, I moved into the role of Director of Culinary Entertainment where I developed all the recipes, menus, and instructor trainings. My dietetic’s expertise helped the company expand into allergy-friendly and health conscious menus to suit all clients.
Full Bio | LinkedIn | 1:1 Coaching

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