Reducing food waste at home not only helps your wallet; it also lessens your environmental impact.

The average U.S. family of four spends $1,500 on food that ends up uneaten, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In addition, one-third of all food in the United States goes uneaten, often ending up in landfills or in sewer systems, the EPA says.

Food is the single largest category of material placed in landfills. When food decomposes in a landfill, it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Municipal landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S, the EPA says.

Granted, we can’t prevent all food waste in our homes. Sometimes, our family’s nutrition needs outweigh our desire to minimize food waste.

Yet if you are able, aiming to reduce food waste at home can save money and benefit the environment.

The EPA recommends the following steps you can take at home to reduce food waste:

  • Plan your meals for the week, and buy only the things you need for a meal.
  • Buying food in large quantities (such as buy one get one free deals) only saves money if you use all the food before it spoils.
  • Properly store, refrigerate or freeze food to reduce spoilage.
  • Produce that is past its prime may still be fine for cooking. Repurpose in soups, frittatas, casseroles, baked goods or smoothies.
  • Learn what expiration dates mean. Examples of commonly used phrases:
  • 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 tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management. It isn’t a safety date. 
  • Use-By is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula as described below.
  • Freeze-By indicates when a product should be frozen to maintain peak quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.

For more tips to reduce food waste at home, visit the EPA’s website,

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