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The 10 Most Wasted Groceries in America—and How to Put Them to Use

A new report unveiled the most wasted groceries in the United States. Here's some easy and delicious ways to keep them out of the trash—and save money in the process.

most wasted groceries
Written by
Tehrene Firman
We've all tossed out that bag of
baby carrots
we promised ourselves we were actually going to eat this time, or the
head of lettuce
that went bad in the back of the fridge. Unfortunately, this wasted food adds up.
Every year, over
70 billion pounds
of food waste enters landfills in the United States. Once the arrive, they don't break down like you would expect them to. Due to a lack of oxygen, they're stuck in limbo releasing methane—a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to
climate change
When it comes to household food waste,
a report
conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Hello Fresh found 10 common grocery items are wasted more often than others, primarily because people said they're the hardest to use up.
Aside from food waste being bad for the planet, it's also bad for your wallet: Survey respondents spent between $250-$500 per week on groceries, so wasting any of that is literally money down the drain.
The good news is with some tips, tricks, and recipe ideas, it's so easy to keep your groceries fresh for longer and find creative ways to use them up before they go bad.

10 Most Wasted Groceries in America—and How to Use Them

1. Lettuce — 27%

most wasted groceries
It's no surprise lettuce is at the top of the list of the most wasted groceries in America. If you don't eat it quickly—or
preserve it correctly
—it can go bad in a couple of days. It can even
turn red
, making it look super unappetizing.
Put your leftover lettuce to use by sneaking it into smoothies, making lettuce cups with your favorite protein, or making a salad (an
air-fryer salad
, if you're feeling especially adventurous).

2. Bananas — 23%

Bananas are second on this list, likely because they're typically purchased in a bunch, which makes it hard to finish them all before they go bad. Luckily, using up your bananas doesn't mean making an endless supply of banana bread.
Use ripe and overripe bananas to make cookies, pudding, brownies, pancakes, and more. (Here's a
full list
of options.) Any extra bananas can be frozen: Remove the peel and chop them up into bite-sized pieces, then freeze them in a
reusable bag
to use later.

3. Milk — 21%

most wasted groceries
There's nothing worse than expired milk sitting in the back of your fridge. Whether you're drinking cow's milk, nut milk, or another plant-based option, put it to good use before it spoils by using it in creamy pasta dishes (hello,
fettuccine Alfredo
), soups, and desserts.
Any leftovers can be frozen: Pour the remaining milk into a
muffin mold
and freeze, then add those frozen discs into a reusable bag or
silicone container
to use later.

Silicone Mini Muffin Mold

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4. Apples — 21%

Apples can stay fresh for
4-6 weeks
as long as they're stored in the refrigerator. But if you leave them on the counter, they could go bad in a matter of days.
Use up your apples by making a mouth-watering homemade apple crisp or apple nachos topped with nut butter and chocolate, adding them to your morning oatmeal, or—of course—baking an apple pie.

5. Bread — 21%

most wasted groceries
Don't let your
bread get moldy
. If you're unsure how to eat it up besides making a sandwich, you can turn an unused loaf into options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
Use your leftover bread to make bread pudding, French toast, croutons for salads, stuffing, casseroles, and stratas. For any unused bread, pop the loaf in the freezer until you're ready to eat it.

6. Avocado — 17%

Oh, avocados—such a love-and-hate relationship. While the fruit is delicious, it can be hard to use it before it turns from hard-as-a-rock to brown-and-mushy.
First, utilize some hacks to
keep avocados fresh
—you can even freeze the fruit for later. But if you have one that needs to be used up immediately, use it to make
chocolatey avocado pudding
, avocado toast, creamy pasta sauces, and even fluffy brownies.

7. Deli Items— 16%

There are plenty of different ways to add deli items—think sliced meat and cheese—into your meals to keep them out of the trash.
Use deli meat in sandwiches, quesadillas, casseroles, and quiches. As for cheese, that's easy:
turn it into crackers
, melt it into a nacho cheese sauce, use it in
macaroni and cheese
, or make a grilled cheese sandwich.

Cheese Huggers

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8. Eggs — 16%

most wasted groceries
Eggs can
last up to five weeks
with proper storage. If your eggs are on the verge of going bad, you have numerous (delicious) options when it comes to using them up.
First, you can go the traditional route—make a big omelet, a scramble, or a quiche. Or, get creative by making a sheet pan hash, deviled eggs, huevos rancheros, ramen, frittata, or even a breakfast pizza.

9. Meat — 15%

Never let your leftover meat go to waste—especially when there are so many simple and easy ways to use it.
Use it in omelets, tacos, sandwiches, hashes, burritos, casseroles, egg muffins, quiches, and stews. Or if you want to go the lighter route, add it to a grain bowl or salad for a protein-packed meal.

10. Carrots — 14%

most wasted groceries
Carrots are seriously underrated. The next time you have a batch you're considering tossing in the trash, here's some simple ways to put them to good use.
Drizzle on some maple syrup and roast them, bake them into a carrot cake, add them to a cozy crockpot meal, use them in muffins, make carrot hummus, and toss them into your