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Stretch Your Food Budget by Trimming Your Food Waste

Have you ever tossed leftover food because it became moldy in your refrigerator? Perhaps you tasted something at the grocery store and bought a large package of it. Then you discovered that your family didn't like it or became tired of eating it.
Stretch Your Food Budget by Trimming Your Food Waste

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Most of us accidentally  waste some food, and we're not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we toss 1,249 calories per person per day. That's more than half of the daily energy needs of an average person. In 2010, the USDA reported that nearly one-third of the total food supply was tossed.

Save Your Food

Tossing food is like depositing your money in the trash can. You can avoid waste with these tips. Your county Extension office can help you with more strategies to use your leftovers.

  • Plan your meals and bring a grocery list to the store. Avoid impulse buys during taste tests in the grocery store. Ask yourself: Will we eat an entire package of this food?
  • Avoid buying overripe, bruised fruits and vegetables, or use them right away. Bruised fruits and vegetables are more likely to spoil because "germs" grow more readily in the bruised areas. Use overripe bananas to make banana bread or muffins.
  • Freeze your leftover fruits, vegetables, and other foods. Maintain good quality of your frozen foods by following the directions provided at in the "food Preservation' section. Click on "Freezing."
  • Don't forget your leftovers. Use your leftovers as lunches. Remember: Your leftovers will remain safe to eat for three to four days if they are stored in your refrigerator.
  • Repurpose your leftovers. Learn how to make casseroles, soups, stir-fry, quesadillas, and omelets using what you have on hand. Check out the "Pinchin' Pennies in the Kitchen" guides available on the FoodWi$e website ( Click on "Food Preparation." Use stale bread to make French Toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, or croutons for salads.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise October 2014 newsletter (PDF)

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