Wasted Food

Food: Too Good to Waste!


In Canada, 47% of food is wasted at home?  Value Chain Management International Inc., The Cost of Canada’s Annual Food Waste 2014

 — uneaten leftovers, untouched fruits and vegetables, food that’s “bought and forgot.”

YOU can stop food waste at home!

Food waste source diagram. The image explains that 47% of waste is from households, 20% is from processing, 10% is from retail stores, 10% is from farms, 9% is from restaurants & hotels, 4% is from transport distribution, 1% is from international catering waste.

Love your leftovers

Leftovers save time and allow us to continue eating healthy foods. When you plan and prepare a nutritious dinner, why waste what’s left?

Tips to Manage Leftovers

  • When plating your food, serve smaller amounts—you can always go back for seconds. Uneaten food on your plate goes in the garbage, but uneaten food still in the pot can be saved for another day.
  • Plan back-to-back meals that incorporate leftovers from the previous meal.  E.g.: leftover roast chicken one day can become a taco filling the next
  • Pack leftovers for lunch the next day
  • Refer to these Food Safety tips on how to cool and store your leftovers safely
  • Label your leftover containers with the date; try to eat them within two to three days
  • Don’t want leftovers? Pay attention to the quantity of food you make so you have just enough, rather than too much
  • Good food doesn’t have to look good. Remember that a good healthy meal can be a mix of all sorts of leftovers (as long as they were made from healthy ingredients)

How to Cook With Leftovers

Turn your leftovers into a new dish!

AllRecipes.com – recipes to use up your leftovers
BigOven.com – find recipes for specific leftover ingredients
Cooking for one or two: creative use of leftovers
Unlock Food: Love your leftovers


Peterborough County waste audits show that roughly 49% of food related organics thrown away could have been eaten, but wasn’t. Better portioning and having a plan for leftovers can help reduce this waste.   

Plan: Make Great Meals Easier

Start with a simple meal plan.  Make a grocery list. Don’t plan every meal for every day.

Are you ever scrambling to make a meal at the last minute, scouring the cupboards and fridge for ideas, while your family wonders, “What’s for dinner?”

You’re not alone. That kind of haste usually produces less-than-nutritious meals and a lot of stress.

A weekly meal plan makes mealtime easier!

  1. Follow Canada’s Food GuideEnjoy a variety of foods from the three food groupings: vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and protein foods (including milk or soy beverages, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, and beans).
  2. Take stock. A well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer make cooking good meals easier. Keep these healthy foods stocked at home.
  3. Check out these tools and apps:

Tips for Meal Planning

  • Make meal planning part of your weekly routine; the more you plan your meals, the easier it becomes
  • Plan meals that use similar ingredients so you can use up everything you buy
  • Try new recipes; pick simple ones with healthy ingredients
  • Plan for leftovers; have at least one leftover meal per week
  • Get your family involved; let kids help plan their favourite dishes
  • Add in a theme night like Taco Tuesdays, Fajita Fridays, or Spaghetti Sundays

For more ideas, visit:

Make a grocery list!

A list ensures you have just what you need, and you save time and money. By sticking to a list, you’ll spend less on impulse purchases, which are often less healthy.

  • Post a list in the kitchen so everyone can update it as items are used and needed
  • Include quantities or measurements from recipes so you only buy what you need
  • Shop in your cupboard or refrigerator first; you might already have items on the list
  • Try this handy shopping list template to help you get started
  • Use the two hour rule – refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of purchasing

For every six bags of groceries we buy, on average, one bag gets thrown away untouched. Meal planning can help reduce this waste.

Store Food Properly

Proper food storage will save you wasted money

Do you feel frustrated when vegetables wilt in the fridge? Or wasteful when you have to throw out an almost-full tub of cottage cheese or yogurt?

Proper storage and understanding best before dates helps stop spoilage and wastefulness.

Tips for Storing Food Properly

  • Keep packages of raw meat, poultry and fish on the bottom shelf of your fridge where it’s coldest. Place on a plate or tray to keep juices from dripping onto other foods.
  • Set your refrigerator to 4oC (40oF) or colder.
  • Not sure where to set the humidity dial on your crisper drawers? Vegetables fare better in high humidity, while fruits prefer low humidity.
  • Label and date containers so you know when they were first opened. The same goes for leftovers, to remind you when they were made.
  • When restocking your pantry and refrigerator, move older items to the front so they get eaten first.
  • Some food lasts longer on the counter than in the refrigerator: e.g. avocados, peaches, bananas, and tomatoes.

Helpful guides:

Quick Videos:

The Truth About Best Before Dates

Best before dates tell us when our food turns bad, right? NOT TRUE. 

Best-before dates are not indicators of food safety, neither before nor after the date. You can buy and eat foods after the best-before date has passed, they just might not taste their best. Before the date, your food’s taste and nutrient content claimed on the label will be at its best.

Best before dates only apply to unopened foods. Once opened, perishable foods that can spoil easily, such as milk, cheese should be eaten soon. When perishable foods are not kept at their proper temperature, the best before date is no longer accurate.

Unopened, non-perishable foods, like crackers, canned goods and cereal can be eaten up to one year after their best before date.

Some additional resources on best before dates:

Best-before dates are linked to huge amounts of Canadian food waste! Dates refer to food quality, not safety. Many products that carry the dates don’t even need them! Storing food properly and knowing what best before dates mean can help reduce this waste and save you money.

Reap Big Benefits

Good food makes a big difference!

Better Health:

When you plan, shop for, and prepare meals with nutritious ingredients, you reduce the number of quick-serve meals, frozen dinners and take-out your family consumes. You’ll also help your family get more of the good stuff (vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein and healthy fats) and less of the bad stuff (fried foods, added sugar and salt).

Family Time:

Good food brings families together. With a little more planning, having the ingredients you need on hand and using leftovers, eating together many times a week helps make families stronger.

Include your kids in meal planning and preparation. It teaches them important life skills and makes them feel part of the process.

Money Savings:

When we’re busy, we tend to buy more on impulse. Quick-serve and frozen meals are designed for that very impulse, but they cost more and are less healthy.

Stick to a shopping list based on a meal plan each week.

You’ll be amazed at your savings, and the good food you can prepare (faster than you might think).

Less Waste: Spoiled food can cost you a bundle

Approximately $1,500 per household per year is spent on food we buy then throw out!
The solution: meal planning and proper food storage.

For more information on Waste Management in your community, visit:

City of Peterborough Waste Management
Peterborough County Waste Management

Content adapted with permission from York Region