Despite our love of Thanksgiving leftovers – it turns out we aren’t that good at gobbling up all of our food, especially at the holidays. Each year we throw out over 200 million pounds of turkey alone during the week of Thanksgiving[1]. Over the course of a year, up to 40% of the food in the U.S. goes uneaten[2] – food that could have benefited the one in 11 Massachusetts residents that is considered food insecure[3].

The good news is that there are simple things we can all do to decrease wasted food (and save money). Here are five tips to reduce our “foodprint” during the holidays:

  • Use the Guest-imator. If you are hosting during the holidays, the  Guest-imator is the perfect tool to help you plan out how much food to buy. Don’t worry- it accounts for those leftover meals too.
  • Get storage savvy. Soggy celery? Sprouting onions?  Save The Food’s interactive storage guide has tips and tricks for how to store your food so it lasts as long as possible (and what to do with that spinach that has seen better days).
  • Complete it. We often overlook the odds and ends when cooking – from potato peels to the end slices on a loaf of bread.  Love Food Hate Waste is full of recipes and tips to help you make the most of your food – from root to shoot. Those carrot tops? They would make an excellent (and nutritious) pesto.
  • The freezer is your friend. Can’t stand the thought of eating another turkey sandwich? Freeze it! Almost any leftovers can be frozen and you will thank yourself later when you don’t feel like cooking.
  • Compost it. Despite our best efforts to meal plan and use up the foods that are past their prime – we will inevitably end up with some food that we just can’t salvage. Composting is a relatively inexpensive way to keep food waste out of landfills and incinerators. The City of Newton has partnered with Black Earth Compost to offer household curbside food waste collection service or you can always compost at home.

And remember  to use reusable plates, cutlery, and napkins for a beautiful and sustainable table!

[1] Cabrera, Yvette. “Giving Thanks and Wasting Less,” Natural Resources Defense Council, Nov. 2019.

[2] Gunders, Dana. “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill,” Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC Issue Paper, Aug. 2012 IP:12-06-B.

[3]“New Data Shows Cost of Food in Massachusetts Highest in United States,” The Greater Boston Food Bank, May. 2019.

Borrowed from Recycle Smart – a MassDEP initiative.