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5 Easy Tips for a Food Waste-Free Thanksgiving

FoodCycler wishes you a delicious Thanksgiving weekend!

Thanksgiving, and similar holidays, are often responsible for huge amounts of food waste. Whether it's the unavoidable kitchen prep - peeling potatoes, chopping carrots - or the totally avoidable over-indulgence at the dinner table, waste is a big part of this holiday.

This article is a short n' sweet list of Thanksgiving tips to keep your waste levels low, and your nom-levels HIGH this season.


We understand the struggle: the whole point of Thanksgiving is to join together to feast the harvest bounty (I mean, that's what it is traditionally - now, most of us join together to share in a group turkey-coma and find ways to avoid awkward front-door-greeting hugs from your least-liked relatives.

But part of being thankful is appreciating the food we have, and honoring our good fortune by not throwing it away. For example, we're not exactly giving thanks for our bounty by hauling ten pounds of perfectly edible food to the curb the day after Thanksgiving dinner, now are we?

Just to give you some context:

FACT: Approximately 204 000 000 lbs of turkey (just turkey) is wasted every Thanksgiving.

5 Easy Tips for a Food Waste-Free Thanksgiving

This waste cost the United States' holiday-makers $293 000 000.

Aside from the massive amounts of resources wasted to raise, feed and dispense with these millions of uneaten birds (part of which amounts to sufficient water to have kept New Yorkers hydrated for over three months), the wasted meat ended up in landfills.

The emissions generated from this wasted food is equivalent to those of driving a car 800 000 times across the United States.

5 Easy Tips for a Food Waste-Free Thanksgiving

How can you help?

Glad you asked, fellow turkey-gobbler. Glad you asked.

Pantry Recon Mission

If you have it, don't buy it. Pretty simple, eh? Or, if you're a little forgetful this time o' year: No Doubles, No Troubles.

Meal Planning:

Take a piece of paper and jot down each dish you'd like to cook/bake. Beneath each option, create a bullet list of all the necessary ingredients. Do you notice any cross-over? Could your extra sweet taters be used in a dessert or side dish, rather than lining your garbage can?

Guesstimate Nom-Levels:

Unless the dinner table will feature relations you haven't seen since infancy, you probably have a decent idea of how much food your peeps will chomp... some much more than others. There are wonderful "Guest-imator" tools out there that you should check-out prior to grocery shopping.

5 Easy Tips for a Food Waste-Free Thanksgiving

Prioritize Your Food:

It goes without saying: DO NOT force yourself to eat food that is neither appetizing nor safe. However, by having a vague idea of how long food lasts prior to and following preparation, you stand a better chance of prioritizing dishes and leftovers.

If you're feeling stressed, add the food item and the Best Before date to your calendar, or write it in Sharpie on the plastic packaging for ease-of-view.

5 Easy Tips for a Food Waste-Free Thanksgiving

Leftovers Need Love Too:

Check out our previous blog post (Recipes for Reducing & Reusing Leftovers) for some nifty tips on repurposing leftovers and food scraps (and saving pandas).

As the name implies, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives - and more specifically, the bountiful and healthful food to which our society has access. Considering the international hunger levels today, if you have access to food and clean water, that's reason enough to be grateful.

By remembering the true meaning of Thanksgiving (bet you thought we were about to say Christmas, huh? Not for another four weeks folks!), we respect and honor the food we're fed. So, friends, slip on your special Eating Pants, scoop up that last dollop of mashed potatoes, and live up to the Turkey-Day Dream: taste it, don't waste it.