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How to Cut Down on Food Waste

This article originally appeared on All You. By Sara Morrow

In the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the comedian-host addressed America’s relationship with food waste. Long story short? We waste a TON of food, and we’ve got to put an end to it.

According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), as much as 40 percent of the food produced in America gets trashed. As a country, Americans throw away $165 billion worth of food every year; individually, that comes out to about 20 pounds of food per person, per month. That’s about as close as we can get to throwing away money.

Not only are there huge environmental concerns about all that produce rotting in landfills, but the issue takes on a new weight when you take into account that 50 million people in the U.S. experience food insecurity.

No doubt, you—our budget-savvy, smart shopping readers—are far less wasteful than most. But in light of the enormity of the problem, here’s an exhaustive refresher course in how to cut back on (and even eliminate!) household food waste:

At the store/unpacking at home 1. Be careful when buying in bulk (stick to non-perishable foods and home supplies) 2. Clean out your pantry and use the oldest items up first. 3. Organize your refrigerator the right way. 4. When unloading groceries, rearrange the fridge so the items that expire soonest are toward the front. 5. Don’t immediately trash food that’s past its sell-by date. 6. Print this helpful chart that details produce shelf life.

Take full advantage of fresh produce (and preserve it!) 7. Stay on top of the produce in your refrigerator, so nothing gets lost in the shuffle. 8. Eat fruit that’s in season. 9. Preserve the life of spring and summer berries. 10. Make your own jam (in 30 minutes or less) 11. Can summer’s fruits and vegetables at home and save money. 12. Don’t have the patience for canning? Try quickling! (My new favorite word.) 13. If greens wilt a little bit in the fridge, revive them in cold water. 14. Cook with food scraps. 15. Use leftover vegetables up in the crock pot. 16. Stuff zucchinis, peppers and more to turn veggies into a main course. 17. Spiralize vegetables for a healthy, hearty “pasta” dish. 18. Find new uses for basil this summer. 19. Then freeze fresh herbs to use all winter long. 20. Use long-in-the-tooth veggies in a super-easy stir-fry or fried rice. 21. Learn how to tell when an avocado is ripe. 22. And keep avocados from turning brown in your fridge. 23. Peel a mango without losing much of the flesh. 24. Brush up on our produce-saving kitchen hacks. 25. Learn to love ugly produce.

Don’t leave pantry staples hanging 26. Use every last bit of peanut butter in the jar (hint: our trick involves your morning oatmeal!) 27. Soften brown sugar that’s become rock hard—in seconds. 28. Revive stale bread with a little water and heat. 29. Keep an eye out for fruit powder.

Love your leftovers 30. Have a little yogurt left in the tub? Use it in a frozen treat. 31. Cook soups that freeze well. 32. Seriously, in general, embrace your freezer. 33. Learn the best ways to freeze produce, chicken, ground beef, bread and more. 34. Come winter, use frozen vegetables. 35. Bring restaurant leftovers home for a second meal or snack. 36. Pass on what you can’t use with these smart apps (check out #3). 37. Get creative with leftover ingredients. 38. Use up leftover chicken. 39. …and leftover turkey.

…and more 40. Invest in kitchen gadgets that make food prep easy. 41. Grow your own garden! And if you have a bumper crop, share it with neighbors. 42. Consider composting.

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