Spoiler alert: Americans toss away between 30 percent and 40 percent of the food we purchase, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Whether it’s because the expiration date has passed or you lost track of a container in the fridge, all that waste is hurting the environment — and our bottom lines. Food prices are up 11.2 percent year-over-year, helping drive inflation to a near 40-year high.
1. Be more lenient about expiration dates.
Putting “Best Used By” dates on meat, poultry and other food is not an exact science. It’s designed to inform consumers and retailers about how long they can expect the food to maintain its quality and flavor. That doesn’t mean you have to throw something out when it reaches that date.
Instead, use your senses to determine if it’s still OK to eat. If a product has changed color or texture or smells strange, those are signs you should toss it. If none of the above applies, it’s probably safe to eat.
Hot tip: If it’s poultry, use or freeze it in one or two days after buying it, recommends Meredith Carothers of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Beef, pork and veal can stay in the fridge for four to five days after purchase. You can freeze poultry and beef for up to a year, according to the USDA.