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Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

"If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, behind China and the U.S.," says Richard Waite, an associate at the World Resources Institute's Food Program. Upwards of 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten, which means all the resources poured into producing that food go down the drain, too. To make sure you're using every last bit, rethink how you cook and shop.

Decode date stamps

Per the USDA. manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality. Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of food safety, so don't automatically toss foods past these dates. "Use by" is the first date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. "Sell by" tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management.

Make use of your freezer for leftovers

Whether it's extra pasta sauce, a loaf of bread, or what's left of a pot of soup.

Simplify everything

Choose more whole foods that are less processed: apples instead of applesauce, plainrice instead of seasoned rice packages. And choose foods with less plastic packaging. especially individual or small portions packed in plastic.

Keep leftovers from restaurants

This is especially important with carbon-intensive foods, such as burgers and lamb chops. So much goes into producing them; they shouldn't go to waste.

Use the bulk bins

Refilling glass jars or BPA-free acrylic containers cuts way back on household waste. makes your cabinets and pantry look neat, and allows you to easily see what's inside so you don't overbuy or let items go bad. You'll need to weigh your containers and label each weight when youget to the store so the cashier can subtract the jar's weight at checkout. It's added work the first time,but no bigdeal after, especially if you reuse the labels.

Keep your cart sparse

We're not all meant to be Sunday preppers. Doing several smaller shopping trips each week could be considered just as efficient in a different way -- less clutter in your fridge means much less chance of waste.

Check out SaveTheFood.com. which has a wealth of information on food storage, meal planning, and usingup leftovers and food scraps.