Food Waste Reduction and Recovery - You

Contact: Aaron Hiday,, 517-282-7546

You are connected to the food that you purchase and eat. That connection has a lasting impact on the environment, your mental and physical health, the health of those around you, your bank account, and more!

EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy As an individual you can make the largest difference through source reduction. Use the tips and tricks below to help reduce your carbon and food waste footprint!

Source Reduction

Shop Smart

Most people tend to buy more food than they need. Buying in bulk may be convenient, but research has shown that this shopping method often leads to more food waste.

Making frequent trips to the grocery store every few days, rather than a bulk run, will help you avoid buying more than you need.

Use all the food you purchased from your last trip to the grocery store before going to back.

Decide what you want to make for the week and make a list of those items and stick to the list. When planning meals remember portion sizes and only get as much as you will eat.

If you shop smarter for only what you need, you will be reducing your food waste while saving money.

Store Food Correctly

Improper storage leads to a large amount of food waste.

Many people are unsure how to store fruits and vegetables - this can lead to premature ripening and even rotten products.

Find helpful food storage tips on the US Food and Drug Administration resources on Are you Storing Food Safely Web page.

Don't be a perfectionist

What makes food 'imperfect'?

Imperfect or ugly fruits and vegetables are often thrown away because of their imperfections, but they have the same nutritional value and taste as their 'perfect' counterparts.

When consumers demand 'perfect' fruits and vegetables they are often leaving the 'ugly' products to rot and spoil.

This has become such a large issue that many grocery store chains, like Walmart and Whole Foods, have started offering discounts for 'ugly' fruits and vegetables.

Save leftovers

In an ideal world, where you are shopping smart, leftovers would not be created. Shopping smart allows you to better portion food you're your household. As you get better at smart shopping, there should be fewer and fewer leftovers created.

If you have leftovers from a meal,don't forget about them in the fridge! Leftovers are often forgotten in the fridge and thrown away.

Storing leftovers in clear, rather than opaque containers helps encourage and remind you that the food is still in your fridge.

Keep your serving sizes in check

Overeating can be a problem for many people. Keeping your portion sizes within a healthy range helps keep you healthy but also reduces food waste.

Being mindful of how hungry you are and practice portioning based off that hunger. This is a great way to reduce food waste.

Get friendly with your freezer

Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to preserve food and there are many types of food that freeze well.

Learn more about how and what to freeze with the USDA Guide to Freezing Foods.

Understand expiration dates

Learn the difference between "best-by", "sell-by", "use-by", and expiration dates.

"Expires on" and "Sell By" can be confusing terms that companies often use on food labels. The US does not regulate these terms and this means there are inconsistencies and food producers setting their own dates and terms.

"Sell by" is used to inform retailers when the product should be sold or removed from the shelves. "Best by" is a suggested date that consumers should use their products by.

Neither of these terms means that the product is unsafe to eat after the given date.

For more information, visit USDA's Food Product Dating.


Additional Resources

Michigan Specific Resources