Healthy Ways to Prevent Wasted Food


Did you know that 40% of food in the US goes uneaten while 40 million Americans do not have consistent access to adequate and nutritious food? In California, 6 million tons of food is thrown away! That accounts for 18% of materials in the landfill while nearly 5 million Californians are “food insecure.”

In the region, the Live Well San Diego Food Systems Initiative helps create a healthy food system to build better health in San Diego. It does so by increasing access to health and affordable food, supporting the local economy and food supply chain, and protecting our natural resources through supporting small-scale farmers and sustainable farming practices. 

The County of San Diego Department of Public Works (DPW) reduces food waste through food waste prevention education and outreach. You can find helpful tips and delicious ways you can cook and use your fruits and veggies on DPW’s Food: Too Good to Waste website. It also provides information on reducing food waste through food donation, fruit gleaning groups, and how to compost. Check out DPW’s Food Waste Prevention & Donation Newsletter, which gives an inside look at what local schools, business owners, and residents are doing to reduce the amount of food thrown away. 

Here are a few tips we can all apply to reduce waste:

Plan and Shop Wisely

Before you run to the market, plan menus and meals ahead of time. Figure out what ingredients you have and what you’ll need. It will save you money, time, and cut down on tossing food that goes bad before you eat it. has a “Guest-imater” to help calculate how much food to prepare based on how many people you’re serving and how much they typically eat. It can even calculate how to ensure leftovers if you want them!

Freeze or Find Ways to Re-Use Leftovers

Even the best planners end up with leftovers sometimes. But you don’t have to let them languish in the fridge. You can freeze leftovers to use in future meals, pack them in to-go containers for lunches, or re-think your leftovers as ingredients in different meals. Leftover pasta and cooked vegetables help make a delicious frittata while leftover rice, meat and vegetables make a great soup, burrito or casserole. 

Got Fruit Trees to Glean?

Do the fruit trees in your yard churn out more fruit than you and your family can eat? Don’t let it go to waste. Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food System Alliance can link you to “gleaner” groups who collect your extra crop and feed someone else’s family. 

Compost It!

When you do end up with leftover food and/or food scraps, a lot of it can go into a compost or worm bin instead of the landfill. Composting can turn leftover food into healthy organic compost and fertilizer that re-injects helpful nutrients and organisms back into your garden or lawn’s soil. Using compost cuts water use, improves crop production and saves gardeners money by not buying soil amendments. Learn what can go into your compost.


Savethefood website has tips galore, from “Five Ways to Revive Food,” to “10 Easy Tips for Meal Planning,” to “Cooking with Food Scraps.” It’s filled with information about how to shop for, cook and store food.

Taking steps to be aware of and prevent food waste has the power to reduce waste, feed people rather than landfills, combat climate change, and save money. 

Working together, we can Save The Food in San Diego