TAMPA (FOX 13) - Every year in the U.S., nearly 430-billion pounds of food is available for people to buy. Ultimately, 40 percent ends up in a landfill. Sound obscene?
Grocery stores throw out 43 billion pounds a year, about 10 percent of the retail food supply. And
what about restaurants? The waste there is 19 percent. But if you want to know who's wasting the most, all you have to do is look in the mirror.
Twenty-five percent of the food and drinks Americans buy goes in the garbage. A loss to your wallet of up to more than $2,000 a year.
So what are we throwing away? Fruits and vegetables top the list, followed by dairy products and then meats.
One popular Bay Area restaurant chain, Fred's Market, launched a war against waste in a unique way.
"People do have a tendency to overeat when it is a buffet. They get more than they want," CEO Fred Johnson told us.
And when he noticed customers leaving so much food on their plates, Fred said enough is enough. "What we've initiated is called "Waste Not, Want Not."
For two years, he gave diners discounts on their bills for finishing everything on their plates. Fred then followed with friendly reminders on his menus. His regular customers changed their habits, and now the amount of food being thrown away has dropped 75 percent.
So what can you do to cut down on waste? Dr. Kevin Murphy with the Rosen College of Hospitality Management has a simple checklist for you to follow:
1. Make a menu of meals, don't forget about eating out.
2. Make a shopping list and stick to it.
3. Don't over buy (remember the list), shop more often, empty nesters need to buy less.
4. Don't shop hungry.
5. Only buy a sale item if you need it.
6. Check expiration dates vs. sell buy date.
7. Buy in peak season (cheaper and better quality).
8. Store at proper temperature (shelf life is reduced by improper storage).
9. Don't over stock freezer (2-3 months protein: 3-4 months vegetables).
10. Buy spices in small quantities (spices do not last forever)
11. Be organized, don't pack shelves.
12. Store food properly (right container, wrapped tight, date).
14. Don't over prepare.
15. Leftover luck (soup, frittata, stews, casserole).
16. Take home leftovers.
Watch the FOX 13 News at 10pm on Friday for more from Mark Wilson on this story.