Did you know that an average American family ( about four people) throws away 25% more waste during the holidays than at any other time of the year? For instance, research shows that Americans throw away almost 200 million pounds of turkey during thanksgiving, minus the side dishes one is likely to incur leftovers. Luckily, there are different tips you can use to cut down on the waste come this year’s thanksgiving. So let’s dive into 11 Ways to Reduce Food Waste This Thanksgiving
And even if you try to salvage the leftovers by storing them in the refrigerator, it’s more than likely that they’ll soon end up in the trash anyway.
1. Be realistic with your budget and plan ahead
Making initial plans on what to buy will prevent you from buying things you don’t.
Make it a routine to check your fridge, freezer, and cupboard before you can decide on your shopping list. You’ll be surprised that most of the things you intend to buy are sitting there.
Making a written list is the best way to avoid impulse buying. If going for a turkey, a rule of thumb is to plan for one pound per person or one and a half pounds per person if you want leftovers.
If your thanksgiving only involves family members, prepare your favorite side dishes to go with your main course. This way, you are sure even if you have leftovers, it’s something the whole family enjoys and can eat later on.
You may also cut down on making different varieties of certain servings. For instance, avoid an array of desserts.
And in case you have a guest bringing food over, make proper arrangements to avoid preparing the same meal. See Gluten-Free Vegan Shopping List.
2. Be creative with your leftovers
Eating leftovers the same way can be boring, causing you to empty them into the trash. However, turning them into a different meal or simply enhancing their taste with additional ingredients such as spices may help you create a whole new recipe that you and your family will likely enjoy. Vegan Thanksgiving SandwichesandSamosa Muffins.
3. Save the scraps
Scraps like vegetable peelings and trimmings, carrot pulp, herb stems, almond pulp, apple peels, etc., can be saved and frozen for future use.
Vegetable peelings, for instance, can be made into soups and delicious Vegan Broth to help keep you warm during the cold.
4. Plan for no turkey
Thanksgiving is highly associated with turkey, but who said you need a turkey to celebrate and enjoy thanksgiving?
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, this is your moment to shine with those delicious recipes and reasonable portions that you and guests or family, if any, can enjoy and actually finish.
Some turkey alternatives that are not only delicious but also affordable include
- Whole roasted cauliflower
- Oatmeal Burgers
- Vegan Meatloaf sandwiches
- Vegan stuffed peppers
- Black Bean Butternut Squash Stew
5. Allow for self-service
Serving others may promote wastefulness or dissatisfaction as you are likely to put more food than an individual can finish or less than they need. So always make it possible for your guests to serve themselves a portion they can eat and finish.
However, don’t forget those guests who appreciate having a plate full of food even though they won’t finish. So ensure you provide smaller plates and serving utensils to enable them to serve what they can finish in one sitting without any food scraps being left behind.
6. Make use of your freezer
If you end up with so many leftovers that are likely to spoil if just stored in the fridge, portion them out, pack them in well-marked containers, and store them in the freezer for future use.
7. Meal prep with leftovers in mind
If meal prepping is your thing, factor in your leftover greens, turkey, vegetables, and whatever food you may have left. This will make you’re prepping a lot easier since most of the food is already cooked.
However, remember that leftovers eventually go bad even when kept in the fridge unless you freeze them. So make a point of using all your refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days.
8. Give away leftovers
While you have an option to store your leftovers, you may find that guest that really enjoyed the food and would like to carry some. Let them have it!
If your guest doesn’t finish what’s on their plate, be more generous by transferring it into a reusable container, putting a sticker with their name, and putting it in the fridge until departure time.
You can also package the leftovers in clear containers with labels including dates and allow your guests to carry what they like and will enjoy eating.
9. Avoid going to the store within the first week after thanksgiving
This will help you finish up the leftovers before shopping for more groceries, thus preventing unnecessary expenditure.
Not having new groceries will prompt you to eat what’s already available in the fridge since there is no other way out.
10. Consider donating
Not everyone has the privilege to enjoy a variety of foods during thanksgiving. So why not package the leftovers nicely and drop them off at a food bank to help those in need?
11. Make a compost
If you have food scraps from your guest’s plates that you can’t recycle, think of making compost for your vegetable garden. And even if you don’t have one, I’m sure you know a neighbor or someone in your area that will be glad to include your leftovers in their compost collection.
You can also search online for a composter near you at findacomposter.com.
Just remember to include only organic material in your collecting container as an inorganic matter like plastic bags, produce stickers, utensils, and service-ware do not decompose.
We all look forward to holidays like thanksgiving because they give us a break from work, allows us to spend time with family and friends, and the best part: it provides an opportunity to enjoy different meals. But with such celebrations comes immense food wastefulness if not well planned.
The tips in this article will help you plan your thanksgiving better, avoid food wastage, and utilize any leftovers effectively.
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