Ashley Koff recently asked on Twitter when I was going to post some simple waste-saving tips for the holidays. Good question, Ashley! Here goes:
While I already covered similar ground in a longer Thanksgiving post, here’s a simplified version:
1. Get a firm head count. Knowing how many people you’ll be hosting helps the planning.
2. Buy less food. While abundance is part of the deal on Thanksgiving, it is less so during the winter holidays. Don’t buy food for 20 when you’re serving 10. This turkey size calculator from a biased, but well-versed source–Butterball–is useful. If you’re having more of a cocktail party, here’s a guide for the amount of finger foods to provide.
3. Serve less or let people serve themselves (although keep in mind these food safety tips on buffets).
4. No clean plate, no presents! (joking)
4. Relax. Eating slowly, enjoying your family’s company (this may be harder for some than others) and being mindful eaters will reduce waste.
5. Don’t let food sit out too long. The longer items stay unrefrigerated–or between 40 to 140 degrees F–the more you’re allowing food-spoiling bacteria growth. Foods should be refrigerated within two hours at worst.
6. Store leftovers in airtight containers. Don’t just throw foods in the fridge to get them out of sight. It only takes a few minutes, so tell Uncle Bob to put down the egg nog and help!
7. Redistribute leftovers. Ask guests to bring their own containers or have extras on hand to dole out excess perishable foods–not just the cookies.
8. Buy fewer groceries in the buildup to your gathering. This will not only make room in the fridge, but also to incentivize your family to eat the leftovers.
9. Plan creative reuses for holiday food. There are only so many goose sandwiches one can eat. Having a few use-it-up recipes in mind will help get you excited about repurposing leftovers. If that doesn’t do it, consider how much money you’ve invested in that holiday food.
10. Don’t serve fruitcake. (Kidding…mostly)