Consumer Watch: The unreal amount of food you're throwing out

The average person throws out 20 pounds of food a month (File).

A shocking amount of food is wasted in the United States that amounts to billions of dollars a year in the trash.

Federal estimates indicate at the retail and consumer level 30 percent of food is thrown out. That means a person throws out about 20 pounds of food a month. This kind of waste is bad for the pocket book, and bad for the environment.

Our eyes can be bigger than our stomachs, and if you find yourself throwing away fruits, vegetables, and meat, small changes can be a real money saver. Consider freezing certain foods to make them last longer, and give you more time to eat them.

“Frozen grapes as a snack. Kids love them too and it is a great way to help kids get more fruits. Most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables,” says Becky Varner, the Buy for Less Corporate Dietitian.

Being smarter about leftovers is also a huge money saver that will help diminish food waste. Putting left over food in a sealed container will make it last longer, but pushing it to the back of the fridge might make you forget about it, so make a point of eating the food.

“Like if you have a little bit of food left over, ways to be able to have another meal with it. I love the idea of cooking once and eating twice,” says Varner.

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency announced a food loss and waste goal. The goal is to reduce all this waste at the retail and consumer levels by half by 2030. The U.S. Food Waste Challenge asks people and businesses to Reduce, Recover, and Recycle food waste. This happens by mindful buying, using what you buy, donating what won't be used, or reusing by doing something like composting.

A study by the journal of Environmental Science and Technology published last year concluded that we are already producing more food than the world needs. However, all that extra is being thrown out, and not going to people who don’t have enough. Food waste, in addition to being a money waster, also releases emissions that are harmful to the environment as it sits rotting in landfills.

Nutrition advocates say being mindful is key. Be aware of what you need instead of just buying. This will save you money and help the environment.

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