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By Rebekah Hall U of A System Division of Agriculture
March 20, 2023
LITTLE ROCK — Throwing out wasted food can quickly add up, both in the garbage can
and the wallet. During No Waste Week from March 20-24, save money and cut down on
food waste by planning meals, safely storing food and getting creative with leftovers.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the food supply at the retail and consumer levels
is wasted in the United States. This corresponds to approximately 133 billion pounds
and $161 billion dollars of food.
Katie Cullum, White County extension family and consumer sciences agent for the University
of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said there are “many reasons why we waste
food at home.”
“From schedule changes, to pickiness, to not planning, it’s not just a matter of your
food dollars wasted — throwing your money down the trash,” Cullum said. “It also affects
the environment. Organic waste, mostly food, is the second biggest component of landfills.
Not to mention the waste of valuable resources, such as water, energy and land.”
One of the best ways to reduce food waste and to save money on the grocery bill is
to plan meals ahead, Cullum said.
“Plan your meals for the week, and plan how to use the extra ingredients that you
buy, especially produce,” she said. “Check your pantry, refrigerator and freezer before
making a shopping list to see what you already have and what might need to be used
up. And then stick to the list while shopping or use an app to keep track.”
Cullum suggested downloading the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodKeeper app, which helps consumers keep food safe and not waste it. The app has an “add to calendar”
feature that allows users to log certain foods and receive reminders to use products
before they spoil. It also offers cooking tips, information on food safety recalls,
and a function to search storage guidelines for specific foods.
Cullum said it’s important to only purchase what you can eat in a week and be realistic
about how excess food will be used. “If you find a great deal on bagged salad, can
you eat it all? Prep a few lunches with it so you can finish the bag,” she said.
To ensure leftovers and extra food don’t go to waste, plan a leftovers night and get
creative about what that meal — or meals — may look like.
“Make a habit of using up whatever you have one night a week,” Cullum said. “Everyone
may eat something different, but that’s OK. Go through all the places you store food
to see what needs to be eaten. Half a pepper? Small zucchini? Green onions? Think
about what you can make with those, such as an omelet or a pasta dish.”
After food is purchased, storing it safely is critical to both personal health and
reducing waste. Cullum said the temperature setting of a refrigerator should be below
40 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezers should be zero degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s also helpful to store food where it can be easily seen. Keep the fridge clean
and use clear containers to avoid mystery leftovers.
“Keep produce or other foods you want to use in plain sight,” Cullum said. “Make it
easy to find foods by keeping your fridge cleaned out. If you have more leftovers
than you need, freeze them or use them for lunches, which also saves you money by
not eating out.”
To read more about food safety and food waste, visit Cullum’s Small Steps to Healthy Habits blog. For more information about nutrition, meal planning and recipe tips, contact your
county Family and Consumer Sciences agent.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division
of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture,
visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Rebekah Hall email@example.com @RKHall_ 501-671-2061