Holidays mean family, friends, and lots of food! Think about enjoying that long-planned Thanksgiving dinner with mashed potatoes, greens, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. So much to relish and more for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners afterwards.
But holiday celebration feasts also mean food waste- and lots of it! In fact, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans waste approx 25% more than during the rest of the year. And since 39% of all food waste is from food being thrown away at home, during the holidays, the amount of food waste is staggering. Millions of pounds of half-eaten turkey, green beans, pumpkin pie and other seasonal trimmings, unfortunately, get tossed in the trash. A growing problem we now must tackle.
On top of that, food insecurity is a major problem across the country. One in 10 American households struggled to feed their family a proper nutritious meal last year, according to the annual food insecurity survey by the USDA. This holiday season, while you are making those big dinner plans with your family and friends, you can implement some simple changes to reduce food waste and support a healthy environment. We did some digging into several experts’ top suggestions and noted the important tips that we found most impactful. Here are the six best ways to reduce waste and save the environment while you enjoy delicious holiday meals.
Plan your Dinner Menu
This year, plan a simple dinner menu (i.e., before you hit the grocery store). The mark of a successful holiday meal with no food getting wasted is composed of three essential steps:
- Create a budget
Determine a solid food budget. Not only will it help you minimize the chances of overspending, but it will also help you in reducing food waste after you prepare the meals.
- Count your guest list
Most of us aren’t preparing a meal for the entire high school football team! Confirm your guest list beforehand to be realistic about the amount of food you are purchasing.
- Plan out your meal
One pecan pie or two? The secret to successfully reducing food waste is… drum roll… planning! Opt for a zero-waste meal by planning it beforehand. Go for one showstopper main, two or three sides, and a dessert item to end it. Oh! And don’t forget those dinner rolls (no holiday meal is complete without them especially because they’re so delicious and easy to make!). Trust us, nobody will miss those extra fluffs. But portion it out. Not everyone will eat four rolls!
Avoid Trendy to Avoid Kitchen Disasters
Tried-and-true recipes are pretty straightforward. We say, skip those food trends that are pretty only in the magazine. Instead, go for your family favorites like the comforting mashed potato or sesame noodle bowl. We guarantee you won’t have any food getting tossed into the bin afterwards.
Remember to buy local, support small markets and farmers and bring your own reusable bags and containers. Not to forget, avoid impulse shopping and buy only what’s essential. You can also buy shelf-stable groceries online from Martie at deeply discounted rates and get them delivered to your doorsteps.
Also Read: Deck your Thanksgiving Snacks Board with Us
Store ‘em Well
So you’ve got a fridge packed to the roof with soup, pies, stuffings and whatnot. We say, practice fridge management. Store food items in the right places and in the right ways to prevent them from spoiling too fast. This means, separating your onions from potatoes; if you have a raw turkey in your fridge, don’t let it sit for over two days; and keep your artisanal bread fresh for longer by preserving it in a muslin bread bag. Need some inspiration to organize your pantry? Check out our ultimate pantry organizing hacks.
What About Leftovers?
We say, love those leftovers. They may come handy when you want to prepare another dish. Store leftovers in clear airtight containers and label them so that they don’t come out of your fridge as a mysterious item months later.
Think out of the box with leftovers to create your own dishes. By this we mean, don’t just limit yourself to turkey sandwiches or salads. Remember, you can basically put a fried egg on anything, et voila, breakfast!
Share A Meal
Holidays are all about sharing and enjoying a meal together. An easy way to get rid of excess food is by sending your guest home with a meal box. You can also donate excess meals that are still good to eat, to food banks, pantries, or shelters that may be interested in wholesome excess food - because let’s be honest, you will not eat all 100 sugar candies by yourself. Looking to donate your excess food? Feeding America’s Find Your Local Foodbank has a map of member food banks that can be in your area.
Reducing food waste is easier when you plan out your meals, stick to your budget and do not over-serve. We hope you find these tips useful and apply them when you are planning meals this holiday season.