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How to Waste Less Food, and Save Money, to Boot!

As Americans prepare for Thanksgiving, dinner tables will be filled with food. But did you ever wonder how much food gets wasted every year? Consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen has some tips on how to keep your food fresh longer and cut down on this pricey waste.

We're talking about billions of dollars of food being tossed every year. What's being thrown out the most? Fruits, veggies, meat and dairy top the list.

Between home and work, the Kerschbaumers are one busy family; between the three of them, they find little time to eat all the food they buy.

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"We buy a lot of food and then we put it in here with the expectation of eating it," Scott Kerschbaumer told Koeppen.

Asked how much food they waste, Kerschbaumer admitted "a lot!"

Their pantry is full, but most of this food will be thrown out.

There was the case of the moldy bread: Kerschenbaumer said it was getting tossed because it had been in the pantry for three weeks.

There were also cans of tomato paste that have never been used, moldy sausages, eggs and milk passed their expiration date.

And they have a freezer filled with half a grass fed cow that they never got around to eating and don't plan to.

The Kershbaumers aren't all that unusual: Americans throw away 150 billion pounds of food each year. For the average American family, that equals more than $1,300 in wasted food.

"We waste a staggering amount of food in America," Jonathan Bloom, author of "American Wasteland" said.

Bloom says we waste food because we buy too much in bulk and let food spoil before we get a chance to eat it. "People need to shop smarter. Think about the amount of food they have on hand before going to the store."

In the Kerschbaumer house, the wasted food is enough to fill an entire counter top.

That came as a shock to Eva Kerschenbaumer: "This is a shame. I can't believe it's in my refrigerator."

"It would be real nice to have the extra cash rather than the cow," her husband Scott added.

But there are ways you can stop this senseless food waste:

First we should tackle the fridge. It's easy to end up with some pretty scary stuff in there. What can be done to prevent so much wasting of food in the fridge?

Set up your fridge like the grocery store. Put the food that's about to spoil up front. Keep meats in the freezer. You can even freeze cold cuts for up to three months. And freeze your bread. Take slices out when you are going to use them.

Finally, there was some advice from Susan Koeppen's kitchen: "As soon as I get home from the supermarket, I do all the hard work. Things that need to be chopped, plucked, cut up, seeded - I do it right away. That way you actually eat it because it doesn't feel like too much work to do when the hunger sets in!"

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