By Luella Morehouse, Stutsman County Extension

Do you ever find yourself throwing away food? Maybe you picked up some food on sale and you bought the larger container. Then your family got tired of the food. The food is in the refrigerator getting moldy. We all waste food from time to time.

Wasted food in homes accounts for up to 40% of total food waste, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports. According to its 2017 study, researchers found that 68% of the discarded food was potentially edible.

Unfortunately, fruits and vegetables topped the list of wasted foods, followed by prepared foods and leftovers. Many adults and children do not eat the daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables. We can’t save all the food, but most of us can take steps to reduce food waste at home.

  • Buy what you need and use the ripest fruits first.

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  • Check out the quality dates on food containers.

  • Arrange your cupboards in “first in, first out” order.

  • Use your leftovers as lunches.

  • Repurpose your leftovers in casseroles, soups, stir-fry, quesadillas or omelets.

  • Freeze your leftover fruits, vegetables and other foods.

Check out “Pinchin’ Pennies in the Kitchen” to learn how to make recipes out of what you have on hand. See for details to stretch your food budget.

Do you have any fresh vegetables that are nearing the end of their shelf life? Use them or freeze them. Visit to learn more about food preservation.

Explore Composting With Your Family

What can you do with food scraps, such as potato peelings? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps and yard waste make up 20% to 30% of what we throw away and could be composted instead.

In fact, about 58% of the participants in the NRDC study felt less guilty if they composted the food instead of throwing it out.

Compost consists of organic materials that can be added to soil that will help your plants grow. Compost is like “black gold” that can be used in your garden to enrich the soil, reduce the need for fertilizers, reduce the amount of organic waste sent to the landfill and reduce the methane emissions from landfills.

Visit to learn about composting.

Article used with permission from Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension, The Family Table newsletter, Issue 20. For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 252-9030 or email