I love Thanksgiving leftovers. My only complaint is that the gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberries usually run out before the turkey.
As you go about getting ready for your Thanksgiving celebrations, be sure to plan your food needs as closely so you can to avoid wasting food.
America wastes about 40 percent of its food supply, according to a report by the National Resources Defense Council.
Thanksgiving is a good time to keep food waste in mind and look for ways to keep Thanksgiving leftovers from entering the trashcan.
Dana Gunders, scientist with council’s food and agriculture program and author of the food waste report, said on her blog that American consumers will throw $282 million of uneaten turkey into the trash this Thanksgiving, contributing to the $165 billion in uneaten food Americans waste every year.
Along with turkeys, they’ll be wasting the resources necessary for its production.
Nationwide, consumers will purchase about 736 million pounds of turkey this Thanksgiving, of which about 581 million pounds will be actual meat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 35 percent of edible turkey meat in the U.S. doesn’t get eaten after it’s purchased by consumers. This compares with 15 percent for chicken.
Consumers may tend to discard more uneaten food on holidays than on other days, according to the USDA.
Fortunately, many ideas are available to help consumers reuse leftovers in tasty ways, Gunders said. The Food Network, Martha Stewart, and other cooking site share recipes. And, most chicken recipes can be made with turkey, too.
- Be realistic about how much food your guests will need and buy that amount.
- Plan ahead by using a shopping list to reduce impulse buying and buying unnecessary quantities.
- Go small by using serving smaller utensils and plates to encourage people to eat smaller portions.
- Encourage self-service so guests choose what they want.
- Store leftovers safely and use small containers so they’re easy to grab.
- Compost food scraps.
- Create new meals, such as using vegetable scraps and turkey carcasses for stock and soups and bread crusts and ends for homemade croutons. See Love Food, Hate Waste for other ideas.
- Donate excess canned and dried food to food banks and shelters.
- Support food recovery programs.
- Give food gifts that the recipient will enjoy and avoid highly perishable items.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrating. After writing about the traditional holiday foods, I can hardly wait to celebrate with my daughter and her family.