Food waste costs families thousands of dollars a year

How many times have you opened the fridge and said, "We don't have anything to eat." We all do it, but it's just not true. There is a lot of food in that fridge. So much so that the US leads the world in food waste. 

More than a one-third of the food packaged for us to eat is wasted. It's tossed out, according to an international food organization. We hear that statistic, but it doesn't always resonate.

So let's do this. Say you spend $120 a week on groceries. Now, take $40 of what's in your grocery bags and toss it in the garbage. Oh, wait, you have to take out the expensive stuff like fruits and veggies because that's what we are throwing out once a week. A month later we've tossed $160 worth of food into the garbage. Fruits and veggies are what we buy to stay leaner and healthier, but we're not eating it. One more time: That's more than $8,000 of food from your fridge that lands in the garbage.

Here are three big things we are doing to waste food: We're not meal planning; we're not storing our food properly; and we're not being thrifty enough with food that's not eaten quickly.

Let's go to planning. Here are three ingredients for successfully eating all of your food. Meal plan. Look in your pantry before you go to the store. And, stick to your shopping list.

Here are fruits and veggie storage tips to make this perishable food last longer. Store bananas, apples and tomatoes by themselves.  They give off natural gases as they ripen and make other fruits around them ripen too quickly. Make sure fruits and veggies are in different bins. Don't wash those berries until you plan to eat them. This prevents mold.

Get thrifty. If fruits or veggies are past their prime, they're often just ugly, not bad, so freeze them for soups and smoothies later. Many families can't finish a loaf of bread before it goes bad. When you buy it, divide it up. Freeze one half and use it later. If your bread hasn't gotten old, those left over slices are future croutons for soups and salads. And shop your fridge. Before the next grocery run, look in the fridge and eat what you have.