Thanksgiving is a time for many of us to share an indulgent and delectable meal with our loved ones, but the 200 million pounds of turkey that go to waste after the holiday makes the day a little less delicious. Our Optimist View from last year discussed the critical issue of food waste in more detail. If you’re making a conscious effort to reduce your daily food waste, why should Thanksgiving be any different? Here are some tips for making your Thanksgiving meal less wasteful.
- Think about how much food you actually need: Although this year we are only cooking for our immediate family, in the future, you can use this handy “Guest-imator” calculator from Natural Resources Defense Council to help you plan your meal.
- Go vegetarian: Okay, hear us out. There are truly endless delicious vegetarian Thanksgiving dish options and going meat-free will reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re not ready to ditch the bird quite yet, consider getting a smaller one and buying local and organic.
- Small portions: Serve your family small portions and encourage seconds or let guests serve themselves. Leftovers are manageable, but nobody is going to want to keep a heaping pile of stuffing off someone else’s plate.
- Don’t peel vegetables: Skins give veggies a rustic feel and trap in vital nutrients. If you want to peel, make sure to compost your skins!
- Serve pickles: Pickled vegetables like onions, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower add a delicious tang to the meal and can be kept much longer than traditional veggie leftovers.
- Change up the menu: Consider adding some variety to your meal in lieu of the classics. Your family will be more excited to try something new and may leave you with less tired mashed potatoes leftovers.
- Make stock: Toss turkey carcass and vegetable scraps in a pot to make a delicious soup stock to use or freeze for future use.
- Share the bounty: Although Thanksgiving gatherings are smaller this year, you can set aside anticipated leftovers to deliver to neighbors or relatives you can’t see in person.
- Find recipes that use leftovers: Turkey sandwiches, potato pancakes, and pot pies are just a few of your options for enjoying Thanksgiving treats in future meals.