How to Avoid Food Waste

1. Overview

Did you know 40% of all food in America is wasted? The best way to prevent food waste is to buy only what you need, reuse what you have and recycle or compost scraps or expired leftovers.

2. At Home

Plan It

  • Plan meals before going to the grocery store. Try using what you have in your pantry first
  • Use a meal planning tool like this one:
  • Buy ingredients you can use for several meals.
  • Be aware of “best-by” versus “sell-by” dates. “Best-by” is a freshness guideline and should be safe to eat after the date has passed. “Sell-by” is a food safety recommendation for store staff and has built-in quality so that if sold by that date, you will have shelf life once its home

Store It

  • Store food properly to extend its shelf life. Consult the interactive food storage guide at
  • Regularly move older items to the front of your fridge or pantry
  • Store leftovers in clear containers so you can see what you have 

Cook It

  • Prep parts of your meal separately to use ingredients for other meals
  • Turn leftovers into new meals. There are great recipes at
  • Turn vegetable scraps from meal prep into vegetable stock 

Freeze It

Order a FREE composter

3. Restaurants and Hospitality

  • Wasted food in the commercial food service industry costs $164 billion/year.
  • In Orlando: 41% of all food waste is from restaurants, contributing to 76,000 tons of food waste every year. The hospitality sector generates another 21% which equals to 38,000 tons/year.
    • Residential generates 14%
    • Wholesalers and distributors generate 11%
    • Grocers and markets generates 6%
    • K-12 schools generate 2%
    • Colleges and universities generate 2%
    • Other - 3%
  • Throwing away food wastes the energy and resources utilized in growing, transporting, storing, and preparing the food.

How Should I Prioritize?

  • Reduce food waste.
  • Donate surplus food to those in need.

How Do I Reduce Food Waste?

  • We can’t change what we don’t measure
    •  Self-auditing will help you understand what food is wasted and its potential impact on your bottom line. Our team can assist you in setting up a food audit.
  • Small changes have big impacts

    •  Prevent Waste at the Source: Ask food suppliers for their policies on food waste. Adopt a system to identify over-purchasing. Use what you already have. Utilize “just-in-time" to only purchase what is needed when it is needed.
    • Train Staff: Provide positive recognition to employees who are engaged with reducing food waste. Train employees in knife skills for more efficient cuts that waste less food.
    • Reuse/Repurpose: Utilize as much of the food items as possible including trimmings, repurpose surplus food in new recipes, incorporate leftovers into next day recipes or in meals for employees, use imperfect produce, and use overripe fruit in baked goods or smoothies.
    • Save Food When Prepping & Cooking: Freeze items when they can’t be used right away, adopt a “nose to tail” approach with meat to use more and waste less, use bones and scraps for stocks, marinate meat to extend its shelf life, finish preparation at the line, cook to order and small batches.
    • Engage Customers: Offer smaller meals or portions to customers, only offer bread upon request and make sides optional, encourage customers to take home leftovers and provide containers or even better, encourage them to bring their own containers. 

How Can I Donate Surplus Food?

  •  Develop a partnership with a local food rescue non-profit or food pantry who can accept and redistribute your edible products and keep track of donations for fullest tax deductions.
  • The Bill Emerson Act: encourages the distribution of food donations to non-profit organizations, which protects you from liability if the product is donated in “good faith”