Tips for cutting food waste at home

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Between the times we eat out and cook more food than we actually need, food oftentimes gets wasted.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, American shoppers waste more food than farmers and grocery stores.

It’s estimated the average family spends $2,225 on uneaten food each year.

One suggestion for curbing food waste at home is to freeze foods that aren’t immediately used.

Freezing is a tactic Nikki Christakos shares with clients she works with through Out of the Garden Project -- a nonprofit organization focused on reducing food waste and food insecurity in Guilford County.

Christakos is the organization’s operations manager and teaches clients that meals, vegetables, fruits and even grains can be frozen to extend how long they can typically last.

“If you have a lot of kids you can buy bread in bulk and freeze two or three loaves, put one in the fridge,” she said.

Christakos explains that another part of the challenge is getting people to look a food differently.

Even if something is not aesthetically “perfect” -- with maybe a brown spot here or there, it can still be used as an ingredient in cooking or baking.

Food may get thrown away prematurely simply because people don’t have a firm understanding of food product dates.

“Sell-By,” “Best if Used By,” and “Use-By” provide specific guidelines according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Sell-By -- date tells the store how long to display the product for sale.

Best if Used By (or Before) -- date is recommended for best flavor or quality.

Use-By -- date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality.

Even when the dates have passed, it doesn’t mean the product is bad.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC has charts that explain which products still have a shelf life beyond certain food label dates.

“A dairy product you're probably going to want to use it by then, but a can or package of shelf stable food, it's not the final final date,” Tomi Melin, director of development and community relations at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, said.

Lastly, composting and vermicomposting can also be resourceful options to reduce food waste.