We’ve all been there. It’s a week after Thanksgiving and we’re still eating leftover turkey sandwiches. Our reheated apple pie isn’t quite the same now that the crispiness is gone. And what about those once delicious brussels sprouts, that green salad and mashed potatoes? Every year, we are faced with the same problem: excess food.
This Thanksgiving, the U.S. is expected to throw away over 200 million pounds of turkey, 3 million pounds of collard greens, 2 million pounds of kale, and 1.2 million pounds of brussels sprouts (according to the NRDC and a report by Nielsen). And that's just on Thanksgiving.
Here are 6 easy steps to reduce your food waste this Thanksgiving and holiday season!
Count heads, seriously
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many people forget this step! When you’re deciding how much food to make, keep in mind that there will be a bunch of different dishes to choose from, so serving sizes will be smaller! Use a portion calculator then knock that number to ¾ of the people you expect. Check out this fun and easy to use Guest-imator on Save The Food (it even factors in leftovers!).
Use what you’ve got
Before going shopping, check your cupboards and fridge for usable ingredients...no need to buy duplicates! Maybe a long-lost can in the back of your cabinet will inspire a new dish! Check out Fridgely for food expiration date tracking.
Coordinate with your guests
This is another no-brainer that we often overlook. How many holiday parties have you been to with four bowls of pasta salad? Or multiple cheese trays? Avoid the embarrassment of duplicate dishes by coordinating with your guests. Don’t be afraid to give direction and assign dishes!
Wait, don’t throw that away!
Instead of throwing traditional “waste” bits away (such as turkey bones, onion ends, etc.), repurpose them!
Veggie scraps: put your veggie ends, onion peels, and potato skins in the freezer to use later for delicious vegetable broth (check out this super easy recipe)
Turkey bones & giblets: add them to the veggie broth recipe (above) for an easy turkey stock.
Fresh fruits: if you have extra fruits, freeze them immediately and use them in smoothies. Check out these yummy, thanksgiving inspired smoothies!
Let your guests serve themselves
This one is huge on many levels. Not only does letting guests serve themselves reduce food waste, it also avoids the awkwardness of obligatory eating. Let your guests gauge their hunger levels and choose foods that they’ll actually eat. They can always go up for seconds!
Use and distribute your leftovers!
Have guests bring containers to bring home in or provide your own! Again, let them choose food that they’ll actually eat. Want to get really creative and Pinterest-y? Make leftover recipe cards with ideas for repurposing dishes! Or host a post-Thanksgiving leftover party :)
Don’t know what to do with leftovers? Use resources like Love Food Hate Waste’s recipe planner to discover new ways to upcycle your leftovers!