The amount of money New Yorkers throw away in uneaten food will make you sick to your stomach.

A new survey finds New Yorkers are throwing a lot of money in the garbage bin on food.

Most Wasteful States

If you can't bring yourself to eat food past its "use by" date, you're very much not alone.

A new survey from Cherry Digital looked into how many pounds of food are thrown away because people think they're expired. The survey found that nearly half of respondents - 48.9% if you want to be exact - refuse to eat food that's past its sell-by date.

With the holidays upon us, people's fridges are more packed than ever, and sometimes drastic measures need to be taken to make space.

The big question this survey set to answer is what states are best at consuming everything bought and which are most guilty of food waste.

preparing food
Liv Friis-Larsen/Thinkstock

In the end, New York performed pretty poorly in the roundup and, on average, those in the Empire State should be ashamed at just how much money they flush down the toilet in terms of wasted food.

"Sell By" does not mean "Expired"

There seems to be a lot of confusion over "best used by" or "sell by" labels on food. In fact, some people appear to be downright misinformed and truly believe it means a product is no longer edible.

Would it surprise you to know that these labels only mean the date marked on food packages signals when its about to slip past peak quality?

Said Cherry Digital of such labels:

Only one-quarter knew that it signifies the last date for use of the product at its peak quality. Nearly a third (30.4%) believed that it was the last date the product was edible, almost a quarter (22%) thought it meant that it was the last date the food product could be displayed and sold in a store, and finally, 21% thought it meant the date that the product would be at its best flavor and quality  - when, in fact, this is the 'best-by' date (interestingly, while these guides are in place, they don't actually say that this is the last date a product can be eaten by - that part is up to you, the consumer.)


Because of this confusion, too many people throw perfectly good food into the garbage and, thus, waste money.

Using the "Sniff Test"

Cherry Digital says people will save a lot of money by simply giving their food the age-old "sniff test." The nose sometimes will know when a food is inedible even before it's so-called "expiration" date - like milk.

This would certainly save New Yorkers quite a bit of cash every year.

The research found:

The first discovery was that New York households waste $959 worth of food annually, or in other words, almost a quarter (22%) of their food each month – because it's gone past its expiration date*. The national average was $907, meaning New Yorkers are among the most wasteful in the nation.

It's so disheartening to think people are wasting close to $1,000 a year when they didn't have to - especially during a time of crazy high inflation.

I saw oranges being sold for 10 for $10 the other day and was actually thrilled to see the price, before I remember that about three years ago, the deals used to be "10 for $5" and so forth.

Paired this with a finding that New Yorkers waste nearly a quarter of their food each month is positively mind-blowing.

In all, New York is well above the national average when it comes to wasted money and food. The national average was $907 per U.S. household and Cherry Digital decreed New Yorkers among the most wasteful in the nation.

Getty Images
Getty Images

The Empire State was beaten out by just a few others, with South Carolina claiming the title of the #1 most wasteful state, with people throwing out $1,304.68 worth of unexpired food every year.

How to Be More Resourceful

For those who want to save as much money as possible, here is a list of suggestions to help you throw away less food in the years to come:

  1. Freeze your food. You can actually freeze the food right up till the use-by date, and it will be good to eat months later! (Just double check what you can or can’t freeze - not everything can go in, like soft cheeses).

  2. Freeze milk into an ice cube tray! As the survey revealed, most people will throw away dairy products first - well now they can use this handy tip instead of wasting. Use the frozen milk cubes in coffee or tea!

  3. Put your herbs into a glass of water to prevent them from wilting quickly, they will last much longer!

  4. If yogurts are getting near their use-by date, you can mix them up with some over-ripe fruit for a smoothie or even freeze into ice-lollies!

  5. Turn stale bread or crusts into breadcrumbs by putting them in a food processor. Fantastic when mixed with herbs or onions as a stuffing for chicken or to top baked fish!

  6. When cooking with foods such as potatoes, broccoli, or carrots, use it all. You don’t need to remove the peel or cut the stems off, as they often have additional nutrients in! And if you don’t like the peel or stem, you can compost what you don’t use.

  7. Donate the items you might be close to throwing out which aren’t yet out of date. There will be plenty of food kitchens nearby that would really appreciate anything you have which is going spare.

Are you surprised by these findings?  Moreover, what food will you always pitch when it's past its "sell by" date?

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Tim Boyle/Getty Images
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