Food: Too Good to Waste

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Washington residents throw away nearly 200,000 tons of edible food each year. This is food that could feed your family or help with hunger relief. Learn how to use food well in your home. There are simple ways to reduce your household's food waste and feed your wallet instead.

Ways to Use Food Well

Make small changes in the way you shop for, prepare and store your food. Try one or more of these tips to save money and food before it's wasted.

 Shop with Meals in Mind

Reducing the amount of excess food you buy has the biggest impact on cost savings and the potential for food waste. 

Plan your meals

Make a weekly meal plan. Keep a running list of meals that your household enjoys.

Shop at home first

Check your fridge, freezer, and pantry for any ingredients you already have before you go shopping.

Stick to your plan

Use a shopping list phone app or use this smart shopping list of what you need for your meal plan. Include quantities so you buy only what you need. Avoid large containers of produce unless you know you have plans to eat it all.

 Prep Now, Eat Later

Set yourself up for success at eating what you purchased. Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. That makes it easier to whip up meals later in the week, saving time and effort.

Prep ahead

    • Wash, chop, peel, cook, or portion ingredients for your weekly meals and snacks when you get home from the store or on a free day. Store prepped food in clear containers and place them near the front of your fridge. 
    • Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.

Use your freezer

  • Befriend your freezer and visit it often. Freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
  • Keep of list of what is in your freezer on the outside of the fridge. Include the date you froze each item. Cross out items as you use them.
  • Use containers with good seals or thick plastic bags to prevent freezer burns.

Label and date all containers to help you use food before it's spoiled.

 Keep it Fresh

The average American household wastes nearly $1,600 each year in produce. Your household doesn't have to be one of them. 

Learn how to store your favorite foods

Print this handy fruit and vegetable storage guide (pdf) to learn where to store the produce you buy and keep it fresher longer.

Use the Still Tasty Shelf Life Guide or Save the Food storage guide to learn the best way to store your favorite foods.

Keep it separated

As some fruits ripen, they give off a gas that causes other produce to ripen quickly and go bad. Store fruits like ripe bananas, avocados, apples, and tomatos away from other produce. Store veggies and fruit in separate fridge drawers.

 Eat What You Buy

Designate an “eat soon” area in your fridge by moving food that's likely to spoil soon to the front of a shelf. Print and attach an Eat Me First label to the chosen shelf, on a shoebox or other container to corral food that needs to be eaten soon.

Food storage, food safety, and food preservation

Food storage, safety 

and preservation

Master Food Preserver volunteers from WSU Extension support consumers statewide with food handling in the home. Anyone with questions related to consumer food storage, food safety or food preservation can contact the WSU Extension's Master Food Preservers in Benton County for advice by email at or phone at 509-735-3551.

Learn how to store, prepare or process foods that meet both quality and safety guidelines:


Donating for Hunger Relief

Plans change, and you can't always use food if that happens. When you know you won't be able to eat food ahead of time, donate your food for hunger relief. Many non-perishable and unspoiled perishable foods can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters. 

Find Food Pantries Near You | FoodFinder

Kitsap Harvest helps residents rescue edible food from your garden or fruit trees before it goes to waste. Check with your local food bank or food rescue operation (like Kitsap Harvest) to find out what items they will accept. 

If you find yourself with food that's no longer edible, you can still rescue the food from a landfill by composting your food scraps into rich soil nutrients for gardens. Find out how easy it is to Compost in Kitsap County.