Wastefulness during the holidays can be a big problem if you’re not careful. Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the holidays than other times of year? Some of that trash includes food waste from our various holiday “feasts.”
Fortunately, with a little planning and proper execution, you can greatly reduce your food waste during holiday meals. Here are 7 tips to waste less this Thanksgiving.
Plan for less turkey
You might visit the grocery store and see a big, beautiful turkey that you’ve just gotta have, but consider how many people you’re having to dinner. A good rule of thumb with turkey is 1 pound per person. So if you only have 5 people coming for Thanksgiving this year, consider a small bird or breast meat only instead of an entire bird.
Plan for no turkey
Who says you need a turkey anyway? Turkey is great and all, but think about all those delicious vegetarian and vegan side dishes! These dishes are easier to make in smaller quantities, just reduce the recipe as needed! No wasted turkey but still plenty of delicious Thanksgiving feasting.
Making broth is a great way to get a second use out of your food scraps. Unwanted bits of vegetables like potatoes, onions, garlic, and celery boiled with your turkey bones will make a delicious bone broth. You will need to discard the bones and vegetables when your broth is done though.
Plan to store your food
Before Thanksgiving, think about how much food you expect to have as leftovers (and send away with your guests!) and plan your storage accordingly. Make sure you have plenty of containers, ideally reusable, plastic-free containers, to store your leftovers.
Meal prep with leftovers in mind
If you’re a meal prepper, prep your week’s meals with the expectation of extra turkey, green beans, and stuffing. Doing this will help make sure you use up all your leftovers and probably make the week ahead a little bit easier to plan for! With the food already cooked, all you need to do is incorporate it into your food prep. Just be careful, leftovers do eventually go bad. Plan to eat all of your leftovers within three to four days.
Make only what you need
Just like with the turkey, you’ll want to make sure that you’re only making enough side dishes for the people you expect to join you on Thanksgiving. One of the ways food gets wasted is by simply making too much. Don’t overdo it with the sides! If you’re only expecting a few guests but want lots of different sides, plan to scale down your recipes.
Avoid the store the week before
You’re a lot more likely to finish off your leftovers if your fridge is empty going into the Thanksgiving holiday. Avoid shopping for regular groceries the week before Thanksgiving. That way you’ll be more likely to polish off those leftovers before buying more groceries!