Make meals, not waste this Thanksgiving

November 18, 2022

We’re getting into the time of year when friends and families start to come together to sit down and enjoy meals together. But, while we gather around a table in gratitude for our food, it is important to be conscious not to produce more food waste. Out of all of the holidays, Thanksgiving is one of the most wasteful days for food waste in America. Around 305 million pounds of food will go uneaten on Thanksgiving day alone. 

Here are some tips to help reduce the amount of waste produced in your home. 

Plan your meals

If you have trouble buying the right ingredients, look up some recipes ahead of time, and plan meals that will feed the number of people you plan to serve. If you stick to a recipe, you will have an easier time using up all of the ingredients you purchased

Buy the correct-sized turkey

You should purchase 1 and a half pounds of turkey per guest, or 8 ounces per person if it is boneless. This should give you enough meat to make sure everyone is satisfied, but not so much that finishing the leftovers is impossible. 

Save the scraps

As you cook, you’re probably chopping off bits and pieces here and there. Save these in an airtight bag to make some delicious and nutritious broths! Use the vegetable bits for a veggie broth and the bones from the turkey to make a bone broth. (Don’t combine your veggie scraps with bones!) Save these in the freezer until you are ready to prepare the broth. The scraps will keep for up to 6 months! These are great recipes if you’ve never tried a bone broth or a veggie broth from scratch before. 

Prepare food with what you have leftover in the kitchen 

No matter how prepared you are with the recipe and food prep, you’ll probably have some food leftover. What do you do with the bag of carrots you have left? Look up recipes based on the ingredients in your pantry with sites like SuperCook and MyFridgeFood.

Save the leftovers

Throughout the year, leftovers are one of the biggest food-waste culprits.  Make sure that you label your leftovers, especially if you have them in an opaque container. It’s also helpful to write the date you prepared the food on the leftovers so that you know what to eat first. Masking tape is great for this. Move these leftovers to the front of the fridge. Play some Tetris if you have to! 

Have a day dedicated to eating your leftovers

Bring them to work with you and eat them for lunch. Get creative with the leftovers. Make the turkey into sandwiches and combine with the cranberry sauce for a tasty treat. Or throw some barbeque sauce on it. If you have a hard time finishing the leftovers because you get bored of the taste, mix it up with other foods! Throw some turkey in the broth you’ve made out of the scraps and prepare a stew. 

Compost the rest

If you’ve got food that’s inedible, or you just can’t finish it and it’s gone bad, the best thing to do is to compost it. By letting food decompose in the correct environment, you are allowing it to break down much quicker and reduce the carbon emissions the rotting process gives off. If composting is new to you, check out our beginner guide on composting

Recovered turkeys from grocers during the 2021 holiday season.

Donate the extra to food drives

If you have unopened cans or nonperishable goods you didn’t end up preparing, local food banks would be happy to take it! There are always lots of good options run by local organizations for food drives if you don’t happen to know of any within your community. 

While you celebrate the holidays, consider making a donation to We Don’t Waste to help provide meals for families and individuals experiencing food insecurity. Your gift provides our community with health, strength, and happiness; and the impact is DOUBLED thanks to a gift match! 

You are the special ingredient in improving our community!