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Avoid Food Waste

Tips to Fight Food Waste

We now produce enough food for everyone in the world, but 1 in 3 of those food calories are wasted – enough to feed 10 times the population of the United States.

This week in food, learn more about how you can do your part to fight food waste.

The Problem with Food Waste

 

Before you meal plan, take inventory of what you already have at home, especially fresh produce. Make your meal plan around the ingredients you already have to avoid wasting any of them.

Smart Meal Planning

 

Make smart choices at the store. Don’t buy a lot of something just because it’s on sale unless you’re sure you’ll use it all.

Shopping to Avoid Food Waste

 

Learn about how to store your produce the right way for that particular item to make it last as long as possible.

Food Storage Done Right

Keeping Things Fresh

 

One spot or bruise doesn’t mean the whole fruit or veggie is ruined. You can cut off the bad spot and still use the rest in many cases.

Cook without Waste

 

Use your scraps, like carrot peelings, onion skins, and tops of celery to make homemade veggie stock, chicken bones or meat scraps for meat stocks and broth, or start a compost to put waste to good use in your garden.

Using All of your Ingredients

 

Make the most of your freezer. Freeze leftover fruits and veggies, soups, and even some meals to use later in a hurry for smoothies, dinners, and more.

Make the Most of Frozen Ingredients

Food Expiration Dates and Safety

Decoding Expiration Dates

Did you know the government doesn’t make food companies put expiration dates on most things? They choose to put those dates on their products so that you get the best quality as a customer, which is why there are so many different kinds of labels.

According to the Boston Globe, 3/4 of Americans think eating things after their printed dates is unsafe. That’s not always true.

What Do the Expiration Dates Mean?

“Sell by” Date

This tells the store how long it can sell the product. You should buy it before this day, but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad after that date. It really just means that it’s freshest before that date.

“Best if used by (or before)” Date

You should use a product before this date for the best quality and flavor, but it has nothing to do with safety.

“Guaranteed fresh” Date

This is usually used for bakery items. You can still eat them after this date, but they won’t be at their freshest.

“Use by” Date

This is the last date a product’s maker recommends you use it for the best quality, much like “best if used by or before” dates.

“Pack” Date

These are dates that are on many canned or packaged goods. They’re used by the manufacturer and do not tell you if the food is safe. They may also be in a code, usually month-day-year, like MMDDYY. So September 29, 2015, would be 092915.

Other Dates

Federal law says that all baby formula must be dated. It is usually marked with a “use by” or “expiration date,” and after that date, the nutrition of the formula begins to decline from what’s shown on the label.

Some states also make stores pull dairy items off the shelves after their expiration dates.

How Long Are Things Good For?

While these dates will help you eat things while they taste the best, you won’t need to rush to throw most things away by those dates.

You should always try to buy your food before these dates expire, but as long as it’s stored at the right temperature and hasn’t been contaminated during cleaning or prep, it can be good after the dates.

Product Dates and Expiration

And of course, it is important to smell and look at your food before you eat it if it’s past those dates (and before them, too). If something smells bad, tastes weird, has rotten spots, or is moldy, don’t eat it! It’s definitely time to throw it away.

You can see more info about dates and food safety from WebMD and the USDA.

Up Next:

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