Tasty Tips to Cut Back on Holiday Food Waste
Turkey, ham, stuffing, rolls, pies and cookies. These are some of the delicious reasons we look forward to the holiday season. But for as much delicious food we eat, we also waste a great deal of it. Food waste accounts for more than 25 percent of the garbage we throw away at the holidays. If you want to cut back on food waste this holiday season, consider some of the following tips:
- The key word is reduce. To reduce the amount of food made in the first place, you have to do some planning. Before you even begin cooking your holiday meal, try to get an accurate count of how many people will be joining. You can then better plan your meal by reducing the amount of food you buy and cook. Don’t just grab the largest or the best value-sized turkey. Instead, do some simple math: a pound of turkey per person. The same need for planning goes for side dishes as well. Pay attention to the number of servings a recipe calls for or, if you make your own recipes, start keeping track of how many regular-sized servings you get out of your usual batch. Next year you’ll know the exact amount of that dish to make. If your guests are bringing a meal to pass, let them know it’s okay to bring less food rather than trying to feed an army with each dish.
- Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers. Some people love them; some people hate them. While the leftover fanatics will be happy to eat an exact replica of Thanksgiving dinner for weeks, some won’t be willing to do that. For the people who hate eating leftovers, the key is just to repurpose the leftovers. Between biscuits and gravy, pot pie, soup, nachos, enchiladas, sandwiches and stuffed shells, you have a lot of choices.
- Ask your guests to bring their own reusable containers. Many people like to send leftovers home with their guests; and their guests generally love it! If they bring their own container, it means you don’t have to worry about running out of reusable containers, and you won’t be forced to use grandma’s covered casserole dish to send food home with your guests.
- If you’re keeping the leftovers at your own house, consider freezing food you won’t eat in the next week. Maybe you have too much to eat during the next week, or maybe you just want to save a plate of stuffing for a cold January day. Either way, freezing leftovers extends their life and prevents you from having to throw away once completely edible food.
Not every piece of food that’s left over from your holiday dinner is going to be edible. Scraps like turkey bones, eggshells and vegetable peels may not be “reusable” but they are “recyclable.” Eggshells and vegetable peels can be mixed into your compost pile or mixed right into your garden soil. If you don’t have a compost pile or garden, you can always bring them to one of the Brown County Food Waste & Organics drop-off sites. Turkey scraps won’t break down in your home composter, so those can also be brought to a Food Waste drop-off site. It’s not hard to reduce the amount of food waste you generate around the holidays. Planning ahead and being creative with your leftovers are simple steps you can start to implement this holiday season.
Source: Mark Walter, Brown County Port and Resource Recovery