Throwing away holiday leftovers? A local expert’s guide to reducing food waste

Posted at 5:49 AM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 04:13:26-05

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Were you able to eat all those holiday leftovers? Or, did you have to throw some away?

Experts say the holidays can be a big time for wasting food, but it doesn't have to be this way.

News 3 spoke with Zach Conrad, an Assistant Professor of Nutrition at William & Mary, about the topic.

"At the same time that the average American is wasting about one pound of food per day, there are also 13 million Americans who don't have enough to eat," he said.

Fresh fruits and vegetables tend to be wasted more than anything else, Conrad tells News 3. It amounts to millions of acres of farmland.

Conrad says there are several steps people can take to help reduce the amount of food waste in their home:

  • Recognize that you're probably wasting more food than you think. Conrad points to studies showing most people believe they're wasting less than the average person.
  • Before grocery shopping, plan your meals and take a look at what you already have in your home.
  • Don't be afraid to not use certain coupons. Coupons tend to lead shoppers to buy more food than they actually need.
  • If you're big into fruits and vegetables, don't be afraid to go canned or frozen. Conrad says it's still a nutritious option especially if you're eating a variety.
  • Use clear containers to store leftovers in your refrigerator. You want to make leftovers as visible and accessible as possible.

"You get some people in the household, particularly adolescents and children, who don’t always know which food is in which container because they weren’t responsible for purchasing and preparing that," said Conrad.

Conrad also points to websites like Love Food Hate Waste that can help find recipes for food scraps. Apps, like FoodKeeper, can have good information about ways to store food.