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Eat What You Buy

Be mindful of ingredients you already have on hand and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish in the process. Here are some tips:

  1. Make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
  2. Move food that’s likely to spoil soon to the front of the shelf or a designated “eat now” area.  Download and print our 'Eat This First' signs to help!
  3. Are you likely to have leftovers from any of your meals? Plan on an “eat the leftovers” night each week.
  4. Casseroles, frittatas, soups and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers and odds and ends. Browse websites such as these that provide creative suggestions for using leftovers:
  5. Learn the difference between sell-by, use-by, best-by and expiration dates. Here’s a quick guide; for more detailed information, read this fact sheet from the USDA:
    • A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before this date.
    • A "Best if Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
    • A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
    • "Closed or coded dates" are packing numbers used by the manufacturer.
  6. Wondering about the shelf life of a particular food or drink? Check out these online guides where you can search by item: or


Check out this great video from King County, Washington. Love your Leftovers — 4 ideas for meal planning.

Love your Leftovers -- 4 ideas for meal planning