Waste Less Food at Home

Get Smart: See how much food (and money!) you’re really throwing away

The first step to reducing food waste and creating lasting awareness is to actually measure how much food you’re throwing away. Click to Get Smart PDF


Smart Shopping:  Buy What You Need

By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money, time, and eat healthier food.  If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.

Click to view Smart Shopping PDF

  • Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home and the timing of your next shopping trip. Will you eat out this week? Be realistic. Download this handy shopping list tool.

Helpful Tips

  • Shop your fridge and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have.
  • Include quantities on your shopping list to avoid overbuying. For fresh items, note how many meals you’ll make with each. For example: salad greens - enough for two lunches. 
  • Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities more often so you waste less while enjoying fresher ingredients.
  • Choose loose fruit and vegetables over pre-packaged produce to better control the quantity you need and to ensure fresher ingredients.
  • Keep a running list of meals that your household already enjoys.  That way, you can easily choose a meal to prepare.
  • Don’t think you have time for meal planning and lists? Try these free mobile apps and web-based tools to make it easier.

Smart Storage:  Keep fruits and vegetables fresh

We waste fresh fruits and vegetable most often. We usually overbuy or don’t use them in time. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them. Storage tips:

Click to view Smart Storage PDF

Helpful tips

  • Separate very ripe fruit from fruit that isn’t as ripe. Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other produce spoil faster.
  • Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes separately, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.  Wash berries just before eating to prevent mold.
  • If you like your fruit at room temperature, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the fridge in the morning.
  • Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, sauces, pies or smoothies.

See the storage guide.


Smart Prep:  Prep now, eat later

Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.

Helpful Tips

  • When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
  • Befriend your freezer and visit it often. Freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
  • Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time. 
  • Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.


Smart Saving:  Eat what you buy

Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.

Click to view Eat First PDF

Helpful Tips

This program was launched in September 2012 and here is some of the feedback we’ve received
  • "I was shocked at how much we’ve actually been wasting! Now I’m more food waste conscious." – Honolulu, HI
  • "My son loved telling us the proper way to store our fruits and vegetables and which ones to keep separate from others." – King County, WA
  • "Knowing the importance of food and the problem with our throw-away culture, and developing strategies to reduce waste is increasingly important and rewarding." – Boulder, CO
  • "I practice eating the leftovers for the next day breakfast, lunch and dinner until it’s all gone. That’s really how you save money." – Honolulu, HI
  • "I cut down on impulse shopping and now plan my meals for the week." – Honolulu, HI
  • "This was a wonderful learning experience and taught us all how to be more mindful of the food we consume and the food we bought but didn't consume." – King County, WA
  • "I loved the food storage tips. I feel like with some things they always go bad fast and I never knew why." – Honolulu, HI
  • "This was a great way to teach/show our kids how much food gets wasted and how to change our habits to be more efficient." – King County, WA
  • "I will buy less than I think I want in food when I go to the store. I seem to be busier during the weekend and week than I first anticipated" – Honolulu, HI
  • "We eat out a lot on our busy work weeks. We need to start eating the food we do buy when we go grocery shopping instead of eating out...possibly bring the food to work for lunch [...] it'll save us Money too." – Honolulu, HI
  • "The project has definitely stuck with us and we are even more involved in making sure we use as much of the food that we purchase as possible, that we plan how to use our leftovers, that we know which food will go bad first and plan meals accordingly, and that we store our food properly to get the longest period of freshness out of it." – King County, WA
  • "It's these types of innovative education programs that truly have a chance at reframing the way people in our community perceive food waste." – Boulder, CO
  • "We are very proud to be working with EPA Region 10 on this project." – King County, WA
  • "I found that educating the pilot participants was both fun and rewarding. Participants' enthusiasm was infectious when they began to notice a change in the amount of food waste they produced. The simple techniques to reduce food waste saved both guilty consciences and wallets alike." – Honolulu, HI
  • "Although I am an environmental scientist and advocate, I was surprised to see how large of an impact food waste has on resources and pollution." – Honolulu, HI
  • "I will save money, resources, time and my sanity - everyone should do it!" – Honolulu, HI
  • "I had no idea I was storing my fruits and vegetables wrong. Also, instead of stressing about using bulk items up, I now know how to freeze/prep fruits and vegetables which will save stress, money, and time." – Honolulu HI
  • "This was a great experiment that got my family much more aware of our habits." – Honolulu, HI