The holiday season is here! What’s not to love about enjoying extra time with family, friends, and good food? We can think of one thing that’s not so great about the holiday season:
While it’s hard to avoid (and resist!) delicious holiday meals and snacks this time of year, all that holiday goodness often results in enormous amounts of food waste being sent to already overflowing landfills. In the U.S. alone, over 5 million tons of household waste is thrown out between Thanksgiving and New Years!
That is triple the amount of food waste generated at any other time of year, according to Worldwatch Institute of Washington D.C.
If you and your family have been trying to reduce your levels of food waste, here are some helpful tips for reducing your trips to the trashcan during the holiday season. Post this list on your kitchen bulletin board or refrigerator and get ready to start saving food, the environment, and money!
4 Ways to Reduce Holiday Food Waste
Holiday Food Waste Tip #1: Plan your menus and how much food you’ll need before shopping.
Resist the urge to over-cook and overextend your menu. Consider the number of guests you’re cooking for and plan the amount you need. Will you honestly need five different sides and three desserts for a dinner party with six guests?
Make a shopping list and stick with it! Grocery stores are filled with “holiday specials” this time of year that can easily tempt you into buying too much food. Not only can this wreck your food budget, but it can also quickly fill up your garbage can!
Holiday Food Waste Tip #2: Portion control can reduce waste and your waistline.
Commit to “shopping small” this holiday when it comes to food. Holiday parties and dinners can be so much fun that you might not think twice about overindulging in food and drink. When you value quality over quantity, your waistline will appreciate it come January!
Encourage your dinner or party guests to serve themselves buffet style. When dinner guests create their own plate of food, they have complete control over the amount of food they want to eat and what kinds of food they want on their plate. This serving style is greatly appreciated by anyone who is a vegetarian, vegan, or has special dietary needs (gluten free, dairy free, wheat free) and reduces not only food waste but your workload as well!
Holiday Food Waste Tip #3: Get it right with leftovers.
When the dinner party is done, be sure to store your leftovers properly. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests heated food be refrigerated within two hours after serving. Pack your leftovers in small containers, so it’s easy to “grab and go” for future meals.
Get creative with your leftovers by finding and trying new recipes. Use those leftover vegetables for breakfast creations, soups, and sandwiches that you won’t get bored with by the third day! If you’re looking for suggestions, we’re here to help:
Visit our recipes section for lots of mouthwatering ideas that everyone will love.
Donate your excess canned, dried and unopened packaged food items to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. Human service organizations committed to reducing food insecurity and poverty can put them to good use this time of year.
Holiday Food Waste Tip #4: Give thoughtfully and give thanks.
When giving food as a holiday gift, go the extra mile to select a choice that will be enjoyed and appreciated by the recipient. An online search can help you to find gift baskets for any and all sorts of dietary limitations and food preferences. Keeping special diets and preferences in mind will help ensure your gift recipient eats and enjoys everything in the basket rather than throwing things away.
While we appreciate the people and things around us, let’s not forget those who are less fortunate and facing food insecurity. The simple changes we make in how we buy and use food can make the holiday season more plentiful for all. Want to do or give more? Consider volunteering at a restaurant, soup kitchen, or food bank.
What will you do?
Here at Tommy’s Superfoods, we believe reducing food waste is essential for a healthy planet and healthy families. Our fast, easy and creative flash-frozen vegetable combinations can help you cut back on food waste, without sacrificing good taste or quality nutrition. Think frozen instead of fresh at the grocery store and help the planet!
What are you or your family doing this holiday season to reduce food waste? If you have tips for reducing holiday food waste, share them with us in the comments section or on social media. We look forward to hearing from you!