With Thanksgiving right around the corner, food is on everyone’s mind. The wonderful fall smells, family and friends gathering around a table… the huge grocery store lines, the stressful meal prep, the cooking all day. As amazing as Thanksgiving is, it can be overwhelming! But we’d argue one of the most overwhelming parts of Thanksgiving is the food waste.
Did you know that the average American family sends over 1,000 pounds of uneaten food to the landfill every year? That’s not only bad for the environment, but it’s bad for your wallet too! This Thanksgiving, let’s challenge ourselves to reduce our food waste! Don’t know how? Keep reading to learn super easy tips and tricks that will have you reducing your Thanksgiving food waste in no time.
Cook the Right Amount of Food
Have you ever planned for 10 people to show up to Thanksgiving and somehow end up with food for 30? Or do you seem to always have a fridge completely full of leftovers after everyone leaves? A good rule of thumb is to consider each person who is attending your Thanksgiving dinner and how much they usually eat on Thanksgiving. If you’re unsure how many people to prepare for, ask everyone to RSVP in advance so you have a better head count! If you’re having a potluck Thanksgiving, have everyone only bring one item of food. That way you don’t end up with duplicates or a huge amount of food waste.
Also, don’t forget to save your scraps while cooking! They can be composted or turned into something else. There are a lot of food scraps recipes across the internet. If you know you’re going to have a lot of an ingredient, for example potato skins, see if you can turn them into their own dish! You can also make broths out of extra vegetables or meat/bones. If all else fails, compost!
Focus on the Popular Dishes
There is always one dish that one person loves… and everyone else feeds to the dog during dinner. Try to not make, or at least make less of, the not-so-popular dishes this holiday season. Although that one person may enjoy it, see if it’s something that has become a Thanksgiving tradition to them, or if it can be replaced with a new and improved dish everyone will love! You can also make smaller portions of the unpopular dishes and more of the popular dishes to average everything out! Remember, any small change in portion size can reduce your food waste.
Use Sustainable and Local Ingredients
A lot of popular Thanksgiving dishes are actually made with ingredients that have to travel thousands of miles to get to your grocery store. Instead, try to buy things locally this year! Checking out your local farmers market, or looking up where an item was made automatically reduces the footprint of your food. Plus, you get to support small and local farmers!
If you can’t buy at a farmers market, try to choose the more sustainably made options at your grocery store. This means looking for products that say things like organic, fair trade, etc. Also, try to make a plant-based dish this year! Eating more plant-based ingredients can reduce carbon emissions. Challenge yourself to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal with 100% plant-based ingredients!
Donate Your Leftovers
If you do end up making too much food, don’t worry! There are a lot of options for you to still reduce your food waste. The first one is to donate! You can look for local food banks near you at the Feeding America website or EPA’s Excess Food Opportunities Map. The holidays can be especially lonely for some, so a good home-cooked meal donated to someone in need can really make a difference! You can also share your leftovers with your friends and family you didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving with. We’re sure they love those leftover turkey sandwiches as much as we do.
Store Leftovers Properly
If you do have leftovers at the end of the night, store them correctly so they don’t go to waste! We have a ton of eco-friendly tools to help you do so. We’ve created a list below of 5 super easy swaps to keep your food storage as sustainable as you! Don’t forget to date and freeze what you can, because who doesn’t love gravy in March?
- Stasher Silicone Bag → Replaces Ziplock baggies
- Khala’s Vegan Food Wrap → Replaces plastic cling wrap
- Vejibag → Keeps your vegetables fresh longer
- Stainless Steel food containers → The transparent lids make it super easy to see what’s inside
- Insulated Food Jar → Great for soups and stews
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