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Food waste prevention at home

Save time and money by preventing food waste in your home with small, simple changes. Waste less and save more. Courtesy of King County’s Food: Too Good to Waste (FTGTW) program.

Food: Too Good To Waste logo 

Food: Too Good to Waste

Food is a precious resource that is too good to waste. Yet, food scraps and food-soiled paper make up over 16% of all landfill waste in King County, and foods not eaten before they spoil account for 2/3 of all household food waste. Not to fear! Small shifts in how you shop, prep, and store food can make a big difference.

Smart food storage: keep it fresh

Fresh food, especially vegetables and fruit, are the most wasted food items. By storing them to maximize freshness, you can help them last longer, taste better, and reduce waste. Did you know that some produce can make other food spoil faster if stored together? Or that some items last longer in the fridge while others do best on the counter or in the pantry?

Food storage guide

Download our Food storage guide to learn how to waste less and save more:

Use our Eat Soon! food storage signage as a helpful reminder to waste less and save more.

Shop smart: buy what you need & eat what you buy

Tips before you shop

  • Make a grocery list with the number of meals/items you will cook at home.
  • Check your pantry and refrigerator before you head to the grocery store - you may have what you need already!

Tips while shopping

  • Keep quantities low: choose loose produce vs. packaged produce.
  • Buy bulk grains, beans, and pasta.
  • Ask for and buy "imperfect" fruits and vegetables which are often tossed since stores can't sell them

Prep smart: prepare perishable foods after shopping

Immediate food prep

  • After shopping, wash, chop, and store fresh food items in clear containers for snacks and easy cooking.
  • Freeze bread, produce, and meats you know you won’t be able to eat right away for future meals.

Weekly food prep

  • Prep complete meals ahead of time to store in your fridge or freezer to save time.
  • Collect favorite recipes to make meal prep easier.
  • Label and date frozen items so you can find and use them later.

What do food labels really mean?

Type of label What it means
image of a milk jug with a Sell By date

Sell-by date

Tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires. But you can still store it at home for some time beyond that date, if you follow safe storage procedures.
image of a Best Used By date printed on a bread bag tie

Best if used by date

Not a purchase or safety date. It is a date recommended for best flavor or quality. Could also read "Best Used Before xx/xx/xx."
image of a plastic container of fresh pasta with a Use By date printed on the label

Use-by date

The last date recommended by product manufacturer for the use of the product while at peak quality.
image of manufacturer packing label on a drink cap

Closed or coded date

Packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

For more food label tips visit: