Food Waste-Free Tips for the Holidays and Beyond
Last May, the city of Ventura offered up a challenge to residents to “Buy it, Eat it, Don’t Waste it”. More than 65 households volunteered to participate and began tracking the amount of food that ended up in their household trash. During an 8-week period, residents implemented simple changes in the way they shopped for groceries, stored food, and finished leftovers. As a result of these practical changes, many homes saw a 50-65% decrease in the amount of edible food that was thrown away.
With the holiday season now in full swing, many of us will be busy cooking and baking our favorite seasonal fare. Even with the best intentions, it can be fairly easy to let food go to waste. In her book, The Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook, Dana Gunders, a Senior Scientist for the National Resources Defense Council, estimates that 35% of all turkey meat cooked for Thanksgiving goes uneaten. Wasted food means wasted money and resources – the water used to grow the food, the energy used to transport the food from the producer to the purchaser, not to mention the wasted food that ends up in a landfill instead of as nourishment for people.
During our 8-week challenge with Ventura residents, we found that planning ahead is the key to reducing food waste. Here are a few quick tips to help you reduce food waste and save money by making the most of your holiday leftovers:
• Plan Ahead: Shop your pantry and fridge before heading to the grocery store to avoid overbuying. If family members/friends are preparing the meal with you, ask them to bring ingredients from their kitchens.
• Share: Save your clean, recycled sauce jars and large plastic yogurt containers to use as to-go containers so your friends and family can enjoy leftovers at home.
• Save: Freeze leftovers in single-serving portions for quick and easy meals. Freeze leftover mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, or stuffing in single portions by placing ½ -1 cup dollops on a parchment paper-lined cookie tray. Once the single servings are frozen, transfer to large re-sealable bags and place in the freezer for future use.
• Repurpose: If you don’t want to eat the same leftovers for a week after your holiday meal, try repurposing them into other recipes. Soups, sandwiches, casseroles, or salads are easy ways to reinvent your holiday leftovers in a fresh, tasty way.
For more food waste prevention tips, visit www.sustainableventura.tv or follow Sustainable Ventura News on Facebook and Instagram.