Submitted by Hennepin County

“I’ve never met anyone who enjoys wasting food,” says Hennepin County food waste prevention specialist Jenny Kedward, “yet we often don’t realize how much of uneaten leftovers or spoiled fruit adds up.”

For a four-person family, uneaten food can add up to $2,500 year or more.

Trash or Cash, the new campaign by Hennepin County, is encouraging residents to choose that cash over trash by wasting less food.

“Studies have shown that people overwhelmingly believe food waste is an issue, but they often don’t see themselves as contributing to the problem or they believe wasted food is inevitable,” said Hennepin County program manager Carolyn Collopy. “Our campaign highlights a particularly sensitive pain point right now – the rising cost of groceries – and equips them with the tools they need to make small changes that will add up to big savings.”

The most significant thing you can do is eat the food you have and buy the food you’ll eat. Eating your food is not complicated, but it does involve finding what works for you. Hennepin County has tips on how to store food to make it last longer, better meal planning, and reminders about what’s in the freezer.

Sign up for “Fridge Check Fridays” for weekly reminders to use the food in your refrigerator before it goes bad. The emails also have cooking tips and food storage hacks, such as:

  • Only plan for three dinners each week and add a night to eat up leftovers. Planning a whole week of breakfasts, dinners and lunches can be overwhelming and doesn’t leave room for the unexpected.
  • Create an Eat First area of your fridge so items don’t get pushed to the back.
  • Treat fresh herbs like cut flowers. Put herbs in a jar with an inch of water and store in the fridge or on your counter. Or you can wrap soft-stemmed herbs like mint and cilantro in a damp paper towel and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
  • Rebrand leftovers to sound more appealing: Encore Night, Buffet Dinner, Eat It Up Meal, No Cook Monday. Whatever you call it, choose a weekly evening when you finish any leftovers in the fridge.

Taking steps to waste less food will put more cash in your pocket and you’ll save more than money.  Food takes a lot of water, fertilizer, land, and labor to get from the fields to your table. So, wasting less food has a positive impact on the land, water, and climate. Learn more ways to quit wasting food at