Want to save money in 2019?

Here’s an easy place to start saving money: stop throwing away unused food! How much do we Americans throw away? The short answer is “too much.” Rosa Rolle, an expert on food waste and loss at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, said, “We buy too much food. We don’t finish our plates. We spend a far smaller share of our income on food.”

Simply put, many Americans can afford to toss out food and still make ends meet. However, an average family of four could save up to $1,500 a year just by not wasting food. Wouldn’t that be nice? Most Americans throw out food when it starts to look or smell bad. Dairy, produce, and meats are the most commonly tossed items, because they spoil the most quickly.

Throwing away food wastes not only hard-earned money, but also valuable resources, such as water, fuel, and supplies used to grow, make, and ship the food in the first place. Worldwide, about one-third of all edible food is wasted, either in the process of growing, processing, transporting, and selling it or after it is sold. As a result, food waste is the single largest category of waste in municipal landfills. Instead of feeding people in need, nutritious food is sitting in landfills and creating greenhouse gas emissions. In wealthy countries, like the United States and Canada, around 40% of wasted food is thrown out by consumers like you and me. We can do better.

To waste less food in your home, follow these simple tips:
• Buy only the food you need.
• Order only the food you will eat in restaurants.
• Learn how to store food correctly. Food lasts longer than you think.
Know the difference between the “sell-by,” “use-by,” and “best-by” dates on products. 
• Be creative in meal planning and utilizing leftovers.
• Don’t be afraid to offer excess food items to neighbors, friends, or food pantries.

For more ideas, check out tools offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and United States Department of Agriculture.

Photo credit: Credit: ferrantraite | E+ | Getty Images

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