What would my family of four do with an extra $2,275 a year? Travel more is the first thing that comes to mind. $2,275 a year is the average amount of money the average family of four loses each year when they toss food bought at the grocery store, according to NBC News. These statistics come out at a time when food prices are rising, and one in five people say they don’t have enough money to be groceries.

I’m pretty sure that my family doesn’t waste throw away the equivalent of an entire week’s vacation each year because I try to be vigilant about food waste. But, I still throw out more than I’m comfortable with. Once in a while, I throw out fresh produce that never got used in the first place. But, most of the time, it’s leftovers that end up in the garbage disposal.

We’ve covered ideas for using leftovers quite a bit here on MNN so I went back through our archives to find some of the best tips and tricks for wasting less food.

General tips for leftovers

  • The website Shelf Life Advice looks very helpful in the fight against food waste. It has lots of handy tips on how long foods are good for, storing foods to give them a longer life, and more.
  • Store leftovers safely: Properly storing our leftovers will preserve them safely for future meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that hot foods be left out for no more than two hours. Store leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more convenient to grab for a quick meal rather than being passed over and eventually wasted.
  • 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.
  • Leftover white rice from Chinese food? Here are five ideas for using up leftover, cooked white rice.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Let the kids eat leftover mac and cheese, pastas, soups or just about anything for breakfast if they want.
  • Share — especially after a party or holiday meal. Send it home with your guests or give a whole meal's worth to a neighbor.

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

Do almost half your groceries go in the trash?
A new study says that Americans throw away 40 percent of the food they bring into their homes. Here are some tips to curb that waste.