Hands up those of you who have found an unopened box of crackers in your pantry only to find that it expired two years before? Or found an identifiable object in your fridge that probably belonged in a science project? Let’s face it, it happens to everyone and no matter how many times it happens it definitely leaves you with a sense of frustration of money, time and food wasted.

You are not alone, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately 40 percent of all food in the US is wasted which costs the average American household about $2200 each year. That’s a lot of money, and not to mention the wasted time it took to go and purchase the food in the first instance.

So here are a few tips that might help reduce this waste.

Group Similar Items Together

Section your pantry into groups. Have a baking section, breakfast food section, jar and canned foods together, grains and pastas, any snacks you may have, group them together. Whatever you have, keep similar items together. You will find that compartmentalizing items is the key to staying organized.

Use Clear and Labeled Containers

If your pantry is large enough, use containers that hold bulk foods or maybe transfer a portion of your oatmeal or sugar into a clear labeled canister and keep the remainder in its original box behind the matching canister.

Apply the Same Principles to Your Fridge

Designate areas within the fridge to certain group types. Keep dairy items together, meats, condiments etc. Use labeled baskets or containers so you can see clearly what is in each and maybe incorporate a lazy Susan where you can place leftovers and this way they wont be forgotten and turn into that dreaded green mass!

Monitor Your Inventory

Keep a daily check on what you have already and try and plan that week’s meals around those ingredients so you use them up. If your fresh produce is starting to look a little tired, before it goes beyond the point of no return, cook them and freeze so you can add to a meal when you need them. Obviously, all of the above applies to your freezer too!

Donate Items

If you see something will be expiring soon and you simply have too much of it, donate it. Let the food purchases you no longer want feed someone who is hungry.

So the next time you throw out food, FEEL GUILTY, and let that guilt drive you to become more organized. Not only will you save yourself a lot of money The Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations have stated that food waste is a tremendous emitter of greenhouse gases, so you will be saving our planet too!