Extreme Coupon Education: 6 Tips to Prevent Food Waste

Because they don’t tell you everything on reality television we are here to reveal the secrets of Extreme Couponing. TLC’s Extreme Couponing is really not about education it is more about entertainment. Our goal is to educate you and empower you to save money for your family.

This week I cleaned out my pantry. Guess what? I found some expired food. (Cue doom and gloom music) Apparently I am not perfect, not even close. Sometimes I buy food with the best of intentions to use it and then forget that it is even in my pantry. But most of the time I keep from wasting food. Part of being frugal is using what you have and not buying more than you need.

Here are my tips to help you avoid food waste:

  1. Always eat your left-overs. Right after dinner package them up for the next days lunch. This will save you time, money and prevent food waste.
  2. Organize your pantry/ fridge. Put food away so that you can see it easily. If you do not know it is there you will never use it. Use containers or shelves to organize like items so they can easily be found. Check out this VIDEO about how I organize my stockpile!
  3. Pay attention to expiration dates. When I put my food away I look at the date it is going to expire. I make sure to put the food expiring the soonest in the front of my shelf so it will get used first. If your food does not have an expiration date marked or it is hard to read write the date of purchase on it with a sharpie.You should also watch expiration dates when you buy. I have actually found food at some stores that is already expired before I purchase it. Do not buy more of an item than what you can use before it expires.
  4. Cook from your pantry. Make a menu plan based on the food you already have. This will save you money and a trip to the store and prevent food waste. Check out our meal plans.
  5. Keep a list. Food can easily get buried in a freezer and forgotten. Keep a running list on your fridge of the items in your freezer so you know what you already have on hand to cook from and you use it!
  6. Donate. If you find that you have food that you will not use before it expires donate it to a local food bank.


  • Kim

    Are there any foods that you would still eat past an expiration date? And if so, how far past? Pasta and rice seem like they would still be fine well past any expiration. My mom told me that she eats yogurt past the expiration, as long as it hasn’t been opened. Not sure if I’m that adventurous… But I’m thinking that most of the expiration dates are erring on the (very) safe side, so as to avoid any potential for illness or lawsuit. Thoughts?

    • Milk is good for a week after the expiration (I have had it last longer than that). I have eaten yogurt and sour cream past the expiration and sometimes will just use it to bake with so that it gets cooked. Rice and pasta usually just tastes stale.

  • Laurie

    As long as it isn’t brown rice, it is still useable. White rice doesn’t go rancid. I wouldn’t use the spice packet but would cook up the rice and add my own spices to it.

  • Christina

    I have a smartphone (Android) and I use a pantry program (My Pantry 2) to watch my expiration dates. I scan barcodes so it’s pretty easy to add new food. I usually take home several carts full of groceries at once. This program has an alert when I open it that will tell me what expired over a day ago, expires today, expires in 24 hours, and expires in 3 days. I donate anything that is going to expire in 3 days.

    I also organize my shelves like a store, bringing the oldest to the front.

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