Food Waste

A  2017 study conducted by the Natural Resources ­Defense Council  revealed the average American household throws out between $1,350 and $2,275 in food each year and a total of 8.7 pounds of food was wasted per household per week. Reducing the amount of food American's waste saves money, landfill space, and natural resources.

Reduce Your Food Waste

EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy

EPA Food Recovery HeirarchyThe Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes actions to prevent and divert food waste.   Each tier focuses on different management strategies for wasted food.  "The top levels of the hierarchy are the best ways to prevent and divert wasted food because they create the most benefits for the environment, society and the economy."

For more information on the Food Recovery Hierarchy and each tier, visit EPA's Sustainable Management of Food.  

EPA's Food: Too Good to Waste

EPA's Food: Too Good to Waste consists of an implementation guide and toolkit that aims to reduce wasteful household food management practices. For more information, visit EPA's Food: Too Good to Waste.

Additional EPA Food Waste Prevention Resources

The EPA provides additional tools to prevent and reduce wasted food including Excess Food Opportunities Map, Food Waste Assessment Guidebook, Toolkit for Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging, Waste Reduction Model (WARM), and Training Webinars.   For more information visit  EPA's Tools for Preventing and Diverting Food Waste

FDA's Tips to Reduce Food Waste

The FDA suggests the following simple steps to reduce food waste and save money:  

Planning & Shopping

  • Preplan and write your shopping list before going to the grocery store. As you write your list, think about what meals you will be preparing the following week, and check your fridge to see what items you already have.
  • When at the store, buy only what you need and stick to your shopping list. Be careful when buying in bulk, especially with items that have a limited shelf life. 

In the Kitchen & Storage Tips

  • Use the FoodKeeper App for information on how to safely store different foods to maintain freshness and quality.
  • Create a designated space in your fridge for foods that my go bad within a few days.
  • Check your fridge often to keep track of what you have and what needs to be used. Eat or freeze items before you need to throw them away.
  • Check the temperature setting of your fridge. Keep the temperature at 40° F or below to keep foods safe. The temperature of your freezer should be 0° F.
  • If you have more food on hand than you can use or you need, consider donating your extra supply of packaged foods to a local food pantry or a food drive.
  • Learn about food product dating – Many consumers misunderstand the purpose and meaning of the date labels that often appear on packaged foods. Confusion over date labeling accounts for an estimated 20 percent of consumer food waste.

Cooking & Serving

  • Be creative and have fun! Create new dishes and snacks with leftovers or items you think will go bad if not eaten soon. Have a cook off to find out who can come up with the best dish.
  • Follow the 2-Hour Rule. For safety reasons, don’t leave perishables out at room temperature for more than two hours, unless you're keeping it hot or cold. If the temperature is above 90° F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than one hour. Also, remember to refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
  • Use serving size information on the Nutrition Facts label to help you portion meals or snacks. You can always add more to your plate after finishing off the first helping.
  • Prepared too much food for a party at your home? Pack extras in containers for guests to take home or take some over to a neighbor as a nice gesture.


1. Hoover, Darby. "Estimating Quantities and Types of Food Waste at the City Level." (2017)

2. Tips to Reduce Food Waste (2017, December 7) Retrieved from