Easy Money: Making Groceries Last Longer

Inside one family's kitchen, where surprising food mistakes are costing them serious money.
3:00 | 01/28/13

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Transcript for Easy Money: Making Groceries Last Longer
Numbers are shocking each year Americans throw away enough food to fill an estimated 730. Football stadiums. To bring that little closer to home maybe. The average American family throws out a 190. Dollars worth of food every month. And part of all that -- might be due to some surprising mistakes you may not realize you're making ABC's -- robot. Brings us this lesson in waste not want not. For our series of easy money. -- Meet Rebecca Dickinson a stay home mom feeding a family of four in Morristown New Jersey -- like -- and entering. She makes breakfast packed school lunches and cooks dinner four times a week for her two kids Matalin an aging ages nine and six. And husband Jeff who was a financial planner at an all up and significant bill with a significant challenge. What would you say your weekly food bill it's a high constantly went through hundreds -- probably after her -- so you're looking at about 12100. -- favorite team guarantees it. -- -- down but how much of that monthly bill goes to waste. The average US household causes -- about 25%. Of food purchased. That's over 720 pounds of food per family per year. As a country we enough food a year to -- 730. Football stadiums. So we decided to follow the -- contends for an entire week come on guys setting up cameras in the refrigerator the pantry. And playing their trash to see just what they bought in the grocery store what they mate for meals and what -- -- away. So we -- here with you for a week and don't feel bad because this is right on par with the rest of America had that you threw out. Thirteen pounds of food in a week I'm -- just. -- -- That's pretty ridiculous. Your finance guy you know -- exactly what it means money the. It means about 25%. Of their food budget 350 dollars a month literally goes in the trash. That's a huge number it's not good for our environment is not good for you know financially. So we brought in our food industry insider Marcus Samuelson celebrity chef and owner of New York city's red rooster restaurant for a little kitchen confidential if you Rainier -- the way most Americans -- run their kitchen yes. What what happens your business we will -- -- We decided that hated Dickinson to visit with markets worsened kitchen tips. We watch what our cameras caught on tape. Leftovers like taco meat and students to on -- dealt me just finish and vegetables that look of -- wilted in -- -- being thrown away again and again. Now here's a challenge that I have I think that everybody has. Throwing out predators when we think that food doesn't look profession is probably have a couple more days to build on it because -- use -- Date the -- but yeah it is different than the generation that doesn't think. Which brings us to our first tip. Learn the lingo sell by use by or best buy doesn't mean tossed by. Sell -- is the last day you should by the product in the store. Often you can eat it several days to -- week after. Used by is the date through which the item will be top quality but you can use -- many days after that it's stored properly. We pulled up into the driveway ready to -- the Dickinson and -- They -- and Amy Amy and headed straight to their refrigerator to see what Rebecca was about to throw out. I have since -- that I had main last week. The same squash soup we -- -- make a week ago. -- -- About to be tossed. That -- dinner prepared a few days ago also about to be trashed they're just losing three -- -- -- here I. Had over estimate how much short and that's that's come right which leads us tour next to. Plan your portions Samuelson says take a moment to visualize what an actual serving is and cook your meals accordingly. The protein can actually do move smoked a single serving a protein is three ounces in size of the deck of cards -- single serving of vegetables or grains like rice or cereal is roughly half cups. A bowl of soup. Twelve ounces and -- Q do you find yourself with leftovers get creative. That's it can be UV coming to something else in the way yet to sentiment in the restaurant he Salomon chief -- well. That does sound good to get don't have left to protect kids not so much. And when he comes to storing food -- counts keeping them there for Internet coldest hospitals to keep -- -- you can get. And on -- daily to -- everything that you -- Refrigerator should -- said -- degrees colder in the freezer at zero degrees. The clintons have the refrigerator spot on but experts say most refrigerators are too warm. Last sleep zone your refrigerator where you pull what we'll get the most out of it anything -- liquid. I mean I always say put -- law thus far. Further down. -- -- -- -- the bottom of your refrigerator is the coldest zone where dairy eggs and liquid should be capped. The top shelf and the doors of the refrigerator tend to be warmer where things that don't need to be quite as cold can be house. So what about that thirteen pounds of food the -- threw out in a week. Experts estimate by cutting the waste the -- -- can save more than 4000 dollars a year for Nightline this is Amy robot in Morristown New Jersey.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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