Newswise — CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers tips to help reduce food waste by planning your meals with the food you already have and storing leftovers safely. March is National Nutrition Month®, when the Academy reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthful eating. 

Approximately 40 percent of all edible food produced in America goes uneaten, according to the Academy Foundation’s Future of Food Initiative. It is estimated that the average family of four throws away approximately $1,484 worth of food and beverages each year, according to the Foundation report “The State of America’s Wasted Food & Opportunities to Make a Difference.”  

“We all can do a better job to avoid wasting food,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Caroline Passerrello, an Academy spokesperson. “Everyone can do their part by planning their meals with the foods they already have and storing leftovers properly to eat another day.” 

“Shop” at Home

“Reducing food waste at home is a good way to save money,” Passerrello says. “Before you go to the grocery store, check your refrigerator. You’ll often be surprised at what meals you can whip up with the foods you already have.” 

Passerrello encourages consumers to learn what the dates on food packaging mean as another way to help reduce food waste. The “sell by” date lets the store know when it should stop selling a package to manage inventory, and the “best if used by” date is the last date recommended for the customer’s use of a product at its peak quality. Neither of these dates reflect a product’s safety and may cause food to be tossed prematurely.  

“However, if you have any doubts about the food’s safety, don’t eat it,” cautions Passerrello. 

Store Your Leftovers

“Once you have finished your meal, be sure to safely wrap and store your leftovers in the refrigerator right away to avoid dangerous bacteria buildup in your food,” Passerrello says. Foods left out after two hours (or one hour during warmer temperatures) should not be eaten. 

Passerrello encourages freezing leftovers you don’t plan to eat within a few days. “Wrap items in heavy freezer paper, plastic wrap, freezer bags or foil. Date all frozen items and use the oldest first when planning your next meal.” 

National Nutrition Month® 2019

For National Nutrition Month®, celebrated each March, the Academy encourages everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits. 

For individualized nutritional recommendations, the Academy recommends visiting a registered dietitian nutritionist. Locate an RDN using the Academy’s online Find an Expert service. 

Follow National Nutrition Month® on the Academy’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using #NationalNutritionMonth. 


Representing more than 100,000 credentialed practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at