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Take stock, shop smart, waste less

Mon., Aug. 8, 2011

Stop and think about all the food in your fridge that will end up in the garbage can. Between food that goes bad, extra helpings left on the plate and unused leftovers, it’s a lot.

In fact, more than 30 percent of the food we buy ends up in the trash. That’s like taking money right out of your wallet and throwing it away.

Here are my Top 5 Ways to Waste Less Food:

Take stock of the situation: Knowing exactly what food you have is your first line of defense. Store leftovers in clear containers to help you keep track of them. Move foods with approaching use-by dates up to the front of your fridge so you use them first.

The freezer is your friend: Freezing can make almost any food last months longer. If you just don’t feel like heating up leftovers on the second day, freeze them instead.

The freezer is also good for stocking up on staples. For instance, I’ll freeze an extra batch of meat sauce in several containers that are each the right proportion for my family.

Also, freezing seasonal produce such as strawberries, blueberries and corn allows you to enjoy healthy foods all year long.

Save the small stuff: Did you not wrap up the half a sandwich you got too busy to eat at lunch?

What about that extra helping of lasagna at dinner? Even if it’s not a full serving, it can be a side item tomorrow. Or it can become a kid-sized portion for dinner.

Here’s another useful tip: If you have extra stock, wine or the like, freeze it in an ice cube tray for use in a sauce or stew later.

Shop smarter: My best advice is to make a list and stick to it when you head to the grocery store. It’s too easy to be swayed by sale items or foods you may not really need.

Planning out your meals in advance will help you create a list of ingredients and curb impulse buys that can easily go to waste. And you won’t need to make extra trips to the store to get items you forgot.

Give composting a go: Composting is the perfect way to turn food scraps into free fertilizer for your lawn and garden.

There is more than one way to compost. You can set up in a bin in your backyard, you can use an electric unit for small jobs or you could take your food scraps to a composting center (or take advantage of curbside pickup where offered, as in the city of Spokane).

You can learn more about all of these options at

These days, it just doesn’t make sense to waste food or your hard earned money. Incorporating a few of these ideas will help you do your part to save both.

Now, that’s an appetizing thought.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and host of, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to

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