TUESDAY, April 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Though food waste is a huge problem in the United States, you can help tackle it and cut grocery costs at the same time.
About 40 percent of all edible food produced in the United States goes uneaten, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The average family of four throws away about $1,484 worth of food and drink each year, according to its foundation.
"We all can do a better job to avoid wasting food," spokeswoman Caroline Passerrello said in an academy news release. "Everyone can do their part by planning their meals with the foods they already have and storing leftovers properly to eat another day."
Reducing food waste is a good way to save money, she said.
"Before you go to the grocery store, check your refrigerator," Passerrello suggested. "You'll often be surprised at what meals you can whip up with the foods you already have."
Another way to reduce waste: Know what the dates on food packaging mean.
The "sell by" date tells the store when it should stop selling an item for inventory control purposes, while the "best if used by" date is when the product is past its peak quality.
Neither date reflects a product's safety, but some people think that's so and throw away perfectly good food.
"However, if you have any doubts about the food's safety, don't eat it," Passerrello said.
Make the most of leftovers. Wrap and refrigerate right away to avoid contamination. Don't eat foods that have been left out for two hours, or one hour during warmer temperatures.
Freeze leftovers that you don't plan to eat within a few days. "Wrap items in heavy freezer paper, plastic wrap, freezer bags or foil. Date all frozen items and use the oldest first when planning your next meal," Passerrello said.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has more on food waste (https://www.nrdc.org/issues/food-waste ).
SOURCE: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, news release