Avoid food waste

Time for spring cleaning or what I call “clean out the junk” time of year. And that goes for the food in my kitchen. I need to make a better effort to use the food I have on hand before I set out to stock up on more.

I must not be alone. According to a report by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, about 40 percent of all edible food produced in America goes uneaten, often because we hang on to it too long. And before we blame it on restaurants and grocery stores, a big part of good food that gets tossed happens at home. In fact, experts estimate that the average family of four throws away approximately $1,484 worth of food and beverages each year.

And sometimes we throw out perfectly good food too soon because we are confused about what the dates on food labels really mean. This can cause us to waste billions of pounds of food every year, says Bob Brackett, Director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Understand these dates, he advises, and we can better judge how to use our food:

“Sell by” is the date by which a store should stop selling a food product. It does not mean the food is unsafe after this date, however. In general, a product still has about a third of its shelf-life remaining after the sell-by date.

“Use-By” tells us the last date that we can expect this food to be at its peak quality. A food eaten after this date will not necessarily make you sick; yet its quality will go down fairly quickly after this date. Infant formulas are the exception, however. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, “Do not buy or use baby formula after its Use-By date.”

“Best-By” refers to the best guess of the last date that this food will be at its ideal or best quality. In the case of salad mixes, for example, some stay great many days after the “Best-By” and others…don’t.

Here’s a game to play when you’re bored. See how many items you can find in your refrigerator and pantry that are close to their “Use by” date. Then use those foods before buying more.

I know a person, for example, who was headed to the store to buy canned beans and tomato sauce for her favorite chili recipe. Because she really didn’t want to go to the trouble for just a couple of items, she checked her cupboard again and found a bag of dried bean soup mix and a small can of tomato paste that had been there quite a while. Voila! A whole new recipe was invented. She’ll let you know how her revamped chili or chili bean soup or whatever she decides to call it, turns out.

Barbara Quinn


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer area residents who were quarantined on cruise ship near Japan back in Canada

Central Alberta residents are safe and test negative for coronavirus

Alberta doctors getting ready for court fight against new pay, benefits deal

EDMONTON — The head of the Alberta Medical Association says it’s preparing… Continue reading

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

All eyes are on Canadian police forces now that Prime Minister Justin… Continue reading

Ontario Tories hold annual policy convention amid union protests

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Labour activists plan to hold a demonstration outside… Continue reading

SARS lessons help Canada prep for COVID-19, but hospital capacity a worry

OTTAWA — Canadian medical experts say the country’s already overstretched emergency rooms… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: The 8 best quality online stores! Shop the ultimate sales

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Saskatchewan’s chief coroner warns public after fatal drug overdoses in Regina

REGINA — Two deaths and dozens of drug overdoses in Regina have… Continue reading

A champion, again: Humphries wins 3rd women’s bobsled title

Kaillie Humphries of the U.S. is a bobsled champion again, winning her… Continue reading

Canada’s Kingsbury finishes first in moguls for 62nd World Cup victory

TAZAWAKO, Japan — Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury earned his 62nd World Cup victory… Continue reading

Cruise-ship evacuees arrive for quarantine in Canada as first Wuhan evacuees let go

OTTAWA — A plane carrying 129 Canadians and their families who have… Continue reading

Trudeau says rail blockades have to end

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday indigenous barricades that are… Continue reading

HIV-themed ‘Friends’ edit pulled after copyright claim from Warner Bros.

TORONTO — A Toronto-based HIV-AIDS hospital has pulled an edited “Friends” episode… Continue reading

Spurgeon records hat trick to lead Wild to 5-3 victory over Oilers

Wild 5 Oilers 3 EDMONTON — Jared Spurgeon scored three goals as… Continue reading

Most Read