Zero Waste Marin Logo

Image ©Emily Hagopian

Food Waste Prevention

Thirty – 40% of all the food produced globally is never eaten by anyone. Because of the energy and resources involved in growing, harvesting, processing, and transporting our food, if wasted food were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the US. Not to mention, throwing away edible food is also a waste of money: the average American family of four throws out $1600 worth of food every year.

Tips to Reduce Food Waste at Home

Shop Smart

Consult your fridge and pantry to check what you already have, and then make a list of any items you still need. Making a weekly list with meals in mind will save you money and time and may help you eat healthier food.

Make a Plan

If a recipe uses an ingredient that goes bad quickly, use that up first. Also check to see if any recipes do not use a full serving of an ingredient (e.g. half a can of tomato paste) and choose another recipe for the week that will use up the rest of that ingredient.

Organize Your Fridge and Pantry

Have a “use this first” section for food that spoils quickly so you know which ingredients or leftovers should be consumed first. Find more fridge organizing tips in this article on the SpareFoot Blog.

Store Food to Last

Store food to last – make sure you know how to correctly store foods so they have the longest possible shelf life!

We recommend the Fruit and vegetable storage guide from StopFoodWaste to print and keep handy. Try the interactive storage guide from SaveTheFood to help you figure out how to store most common foods.

Understanding Food Labeling Dates

Best by, use by, and sell by are all commonly used food date labels, but studies have shown very few people can correctly identify what all of them mean. Except for baby food, the dates printed on food packaging aren’t regulated and don’t mean that the food goes bad after the date has passed. Real Simple has a handy Food Expiration Date Chart with recommended expiration date guidelines for common foods thrown away too early.

There are also some common tests to determine if food is still good. For example, eggs generally last at least 3 weeks beyond their “best by” date if stored in the refrigerator. To check the freshness of eggs, do this quick and fun egg test from StopFoodWaste.


Indicates when a product will be a peak flavor or freshness. Except on baby food or formula, this is not a food safety date.


Indicates when the product has peak freshness. This is not a food safety date.


A date recommendation from the manufacturer to the store for inventory management purposes. This is not a food safety date.