How much food do we waste in the U.S.?  Here's the sad number: $54 billion worth of food each year. Ninety-eight percent of the food ends up in landfills. Think of what that’s doing to the environment. Think of what that’s doing to your food budget.

Here are 10 ideas to help you waste less food, help save the planet, and save you a little money.

  1. Put a container in your freezer to make leftover soup. Throw the odds and ends of vegetables, pastas, rice, beans and other things you might put in a soup. When you’ve got a substantial amount — make a one-of-a-kind soup by adding some organic chicken or vegetable broth and some seasonings. You’ll end up with something interesting.
  2. If you’ve got a small amount of leftover vegetables from two or three nights in a row — say peas from Monday, zucchini from Tuesday, and corn from Wednesday, on Thursday heat them up and let everyone choose which one they want with their dinner.
  3. Leftover white rice from Chinese food? Here are five ideas for using up leftover, cooked white rice.
  4. Keep a bread bag in your freezer to put the ends of loaves of bread. When you need fresh bread crumbs, defrost a few slices and use your food processor to make the bread crumbs.
  5. When bananas get too brown to eat, put them in the freezer. Find a good banana bread recipe and when you’ve got enough for the recipe, defrost and make banana bread. The bananas will look thoroughly disgusting once your defrost them, but they’ll make great bread.
  6. Let the kids eat leftover mac and cheese, pastas, soups or just about anything for breakfast if they want. This drives my husband crazy for some reason, but my kids love it.
  7. Share — especially after a party or holiday meal. Send it home with your guests or give a whole meal's worth to a neighbor.
  8. Freeze small portions of leftover meat for nights when not everyone is going to be home. I use these small portions for nights I know my husband won’t be home. I’ll defrost the meat and split it up between the boys and me — none of us are big meat eaters. I’ll add some pasta and vegetables and we’re all happy, and I didn’t have to cook a main dish.
  9. Refrain from cooking something new until something still edible is used up. We’re become accustomed to having a huge variety of food to choose from, but if we’re going to try waste less food, we’re going to have to get used to eating things until they get eaten up.
  10. Start a compost pile for the food that doesn’t get eaten so it doesn’t end up in landfills. It can go back to nourish the earth to grow more food.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

10 ways to curb your food waste
Save money and lessen your environmental impact with these helpful ideas.