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Ways To Avoid Food Waste This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a celebration of family, football, and most of all, food. While we prepare for the feast, it’s also important to consider the amount of food wasted on this particular holiday. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can limit the amount of food wasted at your house next Thursday.


  • Coordinate recipes with friends and family so you don’t end up with 3 green bean casseroles (unless if you want 3 green bean casseroles!). Setting up a shared Google Doc is a great way to simultaneously plan the meal with the friends and family you’re sharing the day with.

  • Prepare less by cutting recipes in half. If you can’t have Thanksgiving without sweet potato casserole, but like me also “need” to make at least five other traditional side dishes, consider making a half recipe for one or all dishes, instead of full recipes.

  • Only buy the ingredients you need for your recipes. Buying in bulk is only really efficient when you actually need something in bulk. It’s hard to resist a two pound bag of pecans in the heat of the moment at Costco, so maybe remember ahead of time that you can get nuts by the scoop from your smaller grocery store.

  • Avoid impulse purchases; I don’t really need a pre-baked apple pie from the bakery section when I know we already have pecan and pumpkin pies in the works. Another great way is to Instacart your groceries. Studies show that you are less tempted to stray from the list online.

  • Understand measurement conversions for your recipes before you go to the store. If you need 10 cups of flour for all your dinner roll and pie crust recipes, remember that bags of all purpose flour are sold by the pound. So if you plan ahead by understanding any relevant measurement conversions, you can avoid buying two bags of flour “just in case.”


  • Rethink how you peel and trim fruit and vegetables. A lot of times we want to cut away the ‘unsightly’ parts of foods, such as trimming off the knob at the top of a beet or getting rid of the tops of green onions. However, this is often just a matter of aesthetics; you don’t actually have to peel everything. For example, it’s okay to leave the skins on root vegetables such as as carrots, beets, and potatoes. But you’ll likely still need to peel or trim thick squash and pumpkins, because they probably won’t soften enough during cooking. Changing these practices can decrease the amount of food that goes in the bin.

  • Keep an eye on your food while it’s cooking and set timers; this way, the food is less likely to burn and thus less likely to get thrown out.

  • Use up ingredients you may already have in your refrigerator before buying more. Sometimes, I forget I have a bag of celery buried in my vegetable drawer. If I buy more to make stuffing, I’ll be sure to use up the older bag first.

  • Freeze vegetable and meat scraps to make homemade stock or broth at a later date.

  • If you can’t make use of scraps, compost them. It’s easier than you think! Some communities also have composting facilities so you can put compostable in a bin at home to be picked up, or you can drop off your food scraps at a specific location.


  • Get creative with leftovers so that you’re more likely to eat them. The next day, you can make things like a Thanksgiving burrito, waffles made of stuffing, mashed potato spring rolls and sweet potato and cornbread hash.

  • If you don’t want to eat all your leftovers right away, try freezing them so you can have them anytime you want later on.

  • Maybe give your animal companion a special treat instead of her or his usual meal (be cautious: in addition to chocolate, dogs don’t digest onions and garlic well, and grapes are poisonous).

  • Donate shelf stable food items you don’t end up using. Food banks covet holiday-related canned food like cranberry sauce.

  • Compost your leftovers if they spoil, or if you can’t stand the sight of them any longer (most leftovers should stay fresh until Sunday or Monday).

Good plan uh?

- Raph




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