When we think of the iconic holiday table, there’s the turkey taking the place of honor, surrounded by enough dishes of sides, salads, and breads to feed a small army, and don’t even get me started on the desserts. Of course this is only the thing of dreams for those who live every day with food insecurity, but for many of us, especially in the South, it is the holiday table we remember from holidays gone by. It is also the reason Americans generate three times as much food waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s as at other times of the year, according to the Worldwatch Institute of Washington D.C.
Want to celebrate your great holiday dinner traditions without contributing to the Country’s out of control food waste crisis? Here are some no-nonsense tips for reducing waste and celebrating the holidays responsibly.
3. Go small. The season of indulgence often promotes plates piled high with more food than can be eaten. Try smaller serving utensils or plates, so guests have a better chance to finish what they serve.
5. Store leftovers safely. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that hot foods be left out for no more than two hours. Store leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more convenient to grab for a quick meal rather than being passed over and eventually wasted.
6. Create new meals from leftovers. Use surplus turkey and vegetables for stock and soups or try a new twist on traditional turkey hash. Even bread crusts and ends can be used to make homemade croutons.
7. Create to-go plates. If your holiday feast is the combined work of several family members, the leftover dishes will never fit in the fridge. Offer microwavable to-go plates or containers so everyone can serve extra meals to take home or better yet, share with someone else. Guests who plan to make up plates should bring coolers for transporting their food home or to neighbors.
8. Support food-recovery programs. In some cases, food-recovery systems will come to you to collect your excess. In New York City, City Harvest, the world’s first food-rescue organization, collects approximately 28 million pounds of food each year that would otherwise go to waste, providing groceries and meals for over 300,000 people. Find out if local soup kitchens or shelters in your area accept food from individuals.