Use Food Well

Food Too Good to Waste Page.png

Washington residents throw away more than 250,000 tons of edible food each year. This is food that could feed your family or help with hunger relief. That's why Washington has a new plan to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. You can help with this effort and learn how to use food well.

Ways to Use Food Well

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

 Shop Smart

Become a "smart shopper" by preparing ahead of time before going to the grocery store. Look in your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer to see what you already have at home. Then make a list of what you need to help resist impulse buying at the market. Freeze any extras right away and buy in bulk to cut down on packaging waste.

 Store Food Properly

Storing food properly keeps it fresh. Ask important questions about your food, such as: "What produce needs to be stored in the refrigerator?" and "Should I wrap an item in a damp cloth or a dry cloth?" Families can prevent food waste by keeping proper storage guides handy in the kitchen, like this food storage guide.

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 tomatoes away from other produce. Store veggies and fruit in separate fridge drawers.

 Understand Date Labels on Food

Date labels on food are confusing and result in unnecessary food waste. Knowing the meaning of these terms keeps grocery costs down by keeping food that is still safe to eat on the menu.

 Prep Now, Eat Later

Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping to make sure your food is easy to eat later on.

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.

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

Use your freezer

  • 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.

 Prioritize Your Meals

Designate an “eat soon” area in your fridge for food at risk of spoiling soon. Make an Eat First label for the chosen shelf, or use a shoebox or other container to separate food that should be eaten first.

Food storage, safety, and preservation

WSU Extension shares research-backed methods to help you safely preserve and can food at home.

WSU Extension Kitsap

Donate 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, pantries, and shelters. 

Find a food bank

Kitsap Harvest
Kitsap Harvest is a local food rescue organization that helps farmers and gardeners rescue and grow excess produce for donation to food banks and other organizations.

Kitsap Harvest

Compost food waste

There are many ways to compost food scraps and food waste in Kitsap County, including convenient curbside compost services. Keeping food out of the landfill helps the climate by:
  • Improving soil quality for healthier plants.
  • Saving water by helping soils maintain moisture.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by landfilled food.
  • Reducing the need for chemicals in lawns and gardens that flow to our waterways.