An Official Vermont Government Website

Vermont State Logo
Various vegetables arranged in the shape of a heart and cart.


Lettuce in the fridge. Potatoes in the pantry. Berries from bowl to belly and not in the trash.

» Plan your meals in advance to reduce food waste. This doesn’t have to be specific recipes, but a general list of meals so you don’t overbuy. Think about what you’re doing the following week and then plan meals around the time or energy you’ll have to cook. Do you eat out often? If so, don’t buy as many groceries. And don’t go to the grocery store hungry! It’s true, you’ll buy more food than you need.

» Shop your kitchen first. What's in your fridge and freezer that needs to be eaten soon? There are probably lots of staples in your pantry that can be used as the base of a meal. Try to be creative with what you have on hand.

» Make a list and stick to it. If you pay attention to sales that encourage bulk purchasing, that’s a great way to save money, but only if you’re going to actually eat everything you buy before it goes bad.

» Be purposeful and aware of what you put in your cart rather than shopping on autopilot. By buying no more than what you expect to cook, you’re more likely to eat it all while it’s still fresh.


When you get home from shopping, store foods for maximum freshness. Learn which fruits and vegetables last longer inside or outside the fridge. For example, avocados and tomatoes are best stored outside the fridge, but once they’re ripe put them in the fridge to make them last longer. Most nuts and grains last longer stored in the fridge, not the pantry.

Learn more at Save the Food’s Storage Directory.


DID YOU KNOW... your refrigerator
should be set at 40 degrees or below?

This will also help food last longer.



Have you heard about Marie Kondo and the latest rage to declutter homes? This applies to your fridge and pantry as well. Leave more space and don’t overstuff them. You’ll see what foods you have, which will make meal planning easier and help prevent overbuying. Do a ten-minute "Fridge Reality Check" to see how much food you’re wasting and to make better use of the food you buy.

Learn more at


Don’t forget about your freezer! It will buy you extra time if you’re already sick of leftovers or have vegetables or fruits that are ripe and you don’t have time to cook them. When freezing in plastic bags, try to remove as much air as possible from the package, which reduces freezer burn, but if freezing liquids (think soups or smoothies), leave some room in the container for the liquids to expand.


Confused about expiration dates? Apart from infant formula, expiration dates on foods are not federally regulated. Most are manufacturer recommendations for when a product is freshest. Not sure if something is still good to eat? Trust your senses. If it looks OK and smells good, taste a little bit before just blindly throwing food out because it’s past the date. Limp vegetables can often be revived with a soak in ice water for 15-20 minutes or sautéed into a side dish.

This strategy revolves around creativity in the kitchen. Instead of starting with recipes and heading to the store for what you need, cook with ingredients you already have or use recipes just as a starting point. It’s helpful to have a few “hero” or “kitchen sink” recipes or sauces that taste good with lots of different ingredients.

Some common favorites are:

  • Fried rice
  • Chili
  • Omelets
  • Soups
  • Stir fries
  • Stews

There are lots of websites to find recipes for your leftover ingredients, like

Ditch the peeler and invest in a good scrub brush. For many vegetables the nutrients are in the skin and a scrubbing is all that’s needed to get them clean.

Reduce waste by buying, cooking, and serving the right amounts, whether it’s for your family or a party. Giving guests smaller plates helps reduce waste as people can always go back for seconds. And again, if you find yourself with leftovers, don’t forget about your freezer.

For more tips and inspiration, visit

Whatever your skill level in the kitchen, some amount of food waste is inevitable. Make sure you have a plan to keep those food scraps out of the trash—either composting at home, feeding to backyard chickens, bringing it to the food scrap bins at local transfer stations or drop-offs or using curbside pickup from a local food scrap hauler.

For more information on these options go to and download the easy Compost with Confidence Guide (PDF) or the more comprehensive The Dirt on Compost (PDF).

First, pick a container to collect your food scraps. 

This can be as simple as a large bowl or yogurt container kept on your counter, or a purchased compost bin with a lid kept under your sink.

You have many options as to what to do with the scraps.


Composting at home can be easy. Just follow these 3 steps.

  1. Purchase a bin from your solid waste district or town, or build your own enclosed container.
  2. Cover one-part food scraps (“greens”) with three-parts dried leaves, wood chips, sawdust or shredded paper (“browns”).
  3. Mix occasionally and cover exposed food scraps with more browns to reduce odors.


Vermont transfer stations, bag drops, and compost facilities accept food scraps for composting.


Ask your hauler if they pick up food scraps for composting or call one of the haulers on our statewide list of food scrap haulers (PDF).


Some folks save their scraps to feed the chickens.

To find more solid waste information specific to your town, visit


Tips for Composting Food Scraps in Bear Country


  • Take down birdfeeders, except when bears are hibernating.
  • Compost in a hard, durable bin, ideally with a lid that would be challenging for a bear to open. Cover all food scraps with “browns” (dried leaves, wood chips, sawdust, or shredded paper) to help reduce odors, and mix the pile often.
  • Don't compost meat and bones at home. Bring them to a compost drop-off or put them in the trash.
  • Consider bringing your food scraps to a drop off in the spring when bears are most active.