These Are the Top 10 Most Wasted Foods

Updated: May 31, 2023

Nearly a third of Americans admit they’re likely to forget about leftovers. The most wasted foods may surprise you.

When it comes to food waste, the numbers are astounding. The average American spends about $3,000 per year on unused groceries. Nearly a third of Americans admit forgetting about leftovers they meant to eat, and about a quarter lose interest in their leftovers. All of these, and more, are the factors that lead to food waste, according to a recent study by HelloFresh.  People reported that lettuce, bananas, and milk are most wasted foods in America.

“With inflation contributing to record high food costs, wasting groceries each week hurts both the environment and consumers’ wallets,” said Jeffrey Yorzyk, senior director of sustainability at HelloFresh. “Families cook with the best intention of using their leftovers, but our research shows that they are generally not consuming all of those leftovers. Getting creative with the food in your fridge can help families feel like they’re eating something new and exciting!”

Why Do People Waste Food?

Food Waste and Why People Throw Away Leftovers CourtesyCourtesy HelloFresh

For the most part, people hate throwing food away. According to the survey, more than 70% of consumers say they’re riddled with guilt when they waste food. Often, the problem starts in the grocery store. Nearly 20% of respondents say they overestimate how much food they’ll use when shopping. Package size is another problem. A quarter of people say they end up buying at least five food items they wish they could buy in smaller quantities.

Still, some people are simply wasteful and without remorse. Nearly 40% admitted that they’ve thrown food away just because they didn’t feel like eating it after purchasing it.

What Are the Most Wasted Food Items?

Survey responders were pretty adamant about the foods they buy that are the hardest to use up. Below are the top 10 most wasted, hardest-to-use-up foods that survey respondents noted:

  1. Lettuce
  2. Bananas
  3. Milk
  4. Apples
  5. Bread
  6. Avocado
  7. Deli items (meat, cheese, prepared foods, etc.)
  8. Eggs
  9. Meat
  10. Carrots

How Can You Cut Down on Food Waste?

Cutting Down Food Waste Courtesy HelloFreshCourtesy HelloFresh

Once you’ve bought food at the grocery store, there are a number of strategies to ensure you don’t waste it. The most important is finding creative ways to turn leftover food into new meals. Foremost among these strategies is meal planning. Besides cutting down on waste, simple meal planning can make your life easier.

You can also upcycle food scraps, such as orange peels, cucumber peels and watermelon rinds. Finally, you can start composting at home, turning smelly food scraps into organic nutrient-rich soil.