smiley plate

Photo: Ann Cutting

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A $5 pint of strawberries left molding and forgotten in the back of the fridge. Half the cantaloupe you bought for a smoothie, languishing in the crisper. Your famous lasagna, cooked on the eve of back-to-back after-work plans, half of it now destined for the trash. If cleaning out your fridge each week supplies a steady diet of frustration and guilt, consider this: A family of four can waste more than $1,940 worth of food each year. That includes roughly 15 gallons of milk, 12 dozen eggs, 160 pounds of chicken and beef, and 240 pounds of fresh produce.

As hard as that loss is for your budget to swallow, it's even harder on the environment—consider the water and energy required to grow food, and the fuel used to transport it. But you can stop the flow from fridge to trash by simply buying things you'll actually eat and enjoying them before they spoil. These tips will save you money, curb how much you toss, and quash that 5 o'clock what's-for-dinner panic.