minimize holiday food waste

5 Simple Ways to Minimize Food Waste During the Holidays

Minimize food waste during the holidays

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The holidays are the perfect time of year to gather with family and friends, have fun, reminisce, make new memories and, of course, enjoy some tasty food. Unfortunately, food waste has become a significant issue during the holidays. Lucky for you, and the environment, we have 5 simple ways you can minimize food waste during this special time of year.

1. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time

Meal planning is one of the most important steps when it comes to minimize food waste, especially around the holidays. If you plan your meals ahead of time, you’ll be able to have what you need for your guests, but not end up with a lot of leftovers. This means you’ll save money, save time and not be wasteful.

If you know what you want to make, and how many people you need to make it for, you can shop smarter and even prepare items in advance. You can also use seasonal produce, grow your own and provide dishes for any guests with special dietary needs.

2. Confirm Your Guest List

Another step you’ll want to take is to confirm whether or not the guests on your list are actually going to make it. Plans change and situations arise, but it’s important for you holiday menu to know who you will be serving. This is especially true if you have a large family gathering planned or if you think you’ll have to make a variety of dishes to suit your guests’ palates.

Should you be worried about making too much, you can always plan a potluck. This way you know you’ll have a variety of options from which your guests can choose and you’ll have plenty to go around. Plus, when you’re done, everyone can just bring home any leftovers remaining.

Minimize food waste

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3. Always Have a Plan for Leftovers

Speaking of leftovers, it’s extremely important to have a plan for your holiday leftovers. Do you have enough room in your fridge or freezer for everything your guests don’t eat? Do you want guests to bring leftovers home with them?

Well, whether you plan to keep your leftovers or send them home with guests, make sure they’ll be put to good use. You can check out these 25 recipes to help you use your holiday leftovers, if you need some ideas.

Food storage is also key when it comes to leftovers. Make sure you have sufficient reusable containers on hand so you can store your food properly and it’ll still be good the next day (or even two days later).

If you have leftover fruits and vegetables, after you’ve made your holiday dishes, consider doing a little canning and preserving. Then, you can gift the canned goods to family and friends.

4. Divide and Conquer

Sometimes it simpler, and will generate less waste, to divide and conquer when it comes to holiday meals. Don’t try to cook it all yourself. Have each guest bring a dish (side, dessert, rolls or whatever). Tell them how many guests are coming so they know what to bring. They can take any leftovers home when they leave.

compost leftovers

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5. Donate or Compost

If you do overindulge, which we all know happens at times, donate excess food to a local shelter, food pantry or food bank. Anything you can’t donate should be added to your compost pile or bin. This way you can still get good use out of any leftover food, as it’ll be used to help you grow your next batches of fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits.

Reducing and Reusing Food Waste

As we’ve gone over, individuals can reduce food waste by planning according to your needs, not overindulging, confirming your guest list, making good use of leftovers, sharing with friends or loved ones, donating to those in need and composting any food waste you can’t use.

On a broader scale, it can be equal as important to reuse what food waste is generated. For example, some companies are taking minimizing food waste to the next level by turning it into things like clothing, packaging, energy, paper and more. Support these individuals and groups as they are helping to reduce our environmental impact.

With that said, this holiday season, please remember to play your part and do what you can to minimize food waste.

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