Try these easy tips to reduce food waste.

peach skin

Eating Tips

  • Join the “ugly” food movement and shop for the fun shapes foods can take on.
  • Have you ever used broccoli stalks or the green tops of beets? Find ideas in cookbooks and from MSU Extension’s Are you throwing away valuable food?
  • Cooking less can be a challenge for empty nesters and small households. Check out the “Cooking for 1 or 2” lesson from NDSU Extension.
  • Planning to eat leftovers for future meals is a great way to reduce food waste. Not all leftovers reheat well, so pick recipes that do. Remember, eat leftovers within 3-4 days.
  • What is your favorite way to organize the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry? Check out ISU Extension’s The Basics of Kitchen Organization for tips.
  • Notice how much food gets discarded during holidays, birthdays, and office parties. Serve less food, try a no-food event, or use your food waste knowledge to try something else.
  • Eat the skins on produce to reduce food waste, consume more nutrients, and spend less time peeling fruits and veggies.

Eating Out Tips

  • Reduce food waste while dining out! Order lunch portions or take home part of your meal for leftovers.
  • Restaurants often serve very large portions. Share to limit food waste – and have fun with your dining companion. 
  • Not a fan of potato salad that your meal comes with? Ask about swapping it for a side you will enjoy. Don’t eat tomato and lettuce on your sandwich? Let your server know to leave it off.

Food Safety Tips

  • That can of black beans you lost in the back of the pantry might still be good quality and safe to eat. Learn more at fsis.usda.gov and stilltasty.com
  • Whether a short or long power outage, find out which foods can be saved and which ones need to be thrown out.
  • Not sure how long to keep food, or the best way to store it for longer shelf life? Use technology to answer your questions with “Save the Food” Skill on your smart speaker.

Prolong Food Life

  • Preserving is great for that extra pound of fresh green beans you bought! Learn more about preserving options from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
  • Did you not use that whole can of pumpkin puree? Or all that bottled salsa? No worries – your freezer can help.
  • Foods can have a long life. Learn more about food donations and food recovery from USDA at udsa.gov and EPA at epa.gov.
  • See storage recommendations from NDSU Extension for fruits and veggies at ag.ndsu.edu.
  • Refrigeration and freezing keep foods safe longer by delaying food decay and limiting most microbial growth.
  • When putting foods away, move them around so foods that are closer to “best-by” dates are in front. This way you are more likely to use them.
  • Turn old and overripe produce into something new. Overripe bananas are great in banana bread. Soft, mealy apples make great applesauce or apple crisp.

Shopping Tips

  • Habits take time to build, including checking your kitchen food inventory before going shopping. What helps you remember to check before you shop?
  • Shop local farmers markets, roadside stands, and CSAs to buy just the amount you want.

Food Waste Usage

  • From traditional compost to vermicompost, use the nutrients in your leftover scraps to make plant food.
  • Start the conversation about where your food goes after trash pickup. Hint, it’s usually a landfill.
  • From municipal groups to universities to commercial waste disposal, check your local area for community composting.
  • Learn more about the Food Recovery Hierarchy from the Environmental Protection Agency at epa.gov.
  • Try out EPA’s “Too Good to Waste” Challenge at epa.gov. Find out how much you waste at home and how to waste less.
  • Reducing single-use packaging and food waste go hand in hand. Apply your food waste knowledge, and add in reusable packaging, like grocery totes or produce bags. Try making your own with upcycled materials!