By Maddy Rohr, K-State Research and Extension news service


Manhattan, KS- Food waste is common in households after the holidays, but also happens year around. Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee said in almost 32% of average households, leftover food — along with forgotten food — is wasted.


“Of all of the sources of wasted food, residential homes make up 37.2% of surplus food wasted,” Blakeslee said, adding that many studies have shown that wasted food fills up landfills and causes more damage to the environment than other factors.


Utilizing leftovers and food already in your home before purchasing new food is a step to minimize food waste.


Blakeslee suggests labeling and dating leftovers so you know what they are and when they were made. She also recommends repurposing leftovers into other meals such as soup, stir-fry or casserole. Plan a day each week to purposely use leftovers.


“Many foods lose quality over time, but may still be safe to consume. Always inspect packages for damage, leaks, color changes, off-odors or other signals that the food may not be good or safe to consume,” Blakeslee said. “Refrigerated leftovers should be used within 3-4 days or frozen, and use frozen leftovers within a few months.”


She suggests the K-State Research and Extension publications, Safe Food Storage: The Refrigerator and Freezer and Safe Food Storage: The Cupboard, as guides to store food properly.


“For most shelf stable foods, the shelf life dates are an indication of best quality,” she said. “So if you have some foods past those dates, they may have reduced quality but still be safe to eat.”


Blakeslee recommends looking at your kitchen management plan:




Blakeslee publishes a monthly newsletter called You Asked It! that provides numerous tips on being safe and healthy. More information is also available from local extension offices in Kansas.