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How to reduce food waste this holiday season

Published on December 24 2020

The holidays are all about spending time with your favourite people, sharing laughs, and, of course, enjoying all the food—from gourmet snacks and prosecco to that succulent, show-stopper of a turkey. While the festive season may look a little different this year, food waste still remains one of the biggest negative side effects of holiday consumption. The good news is that most food waste can be avoided with just a few simple actions

Here are 8 easy ways to reduce food waste this holiday season.

1. Planning is key

One of the best ways to reduce holiday food waste is to plan ahead of time (i.e. before you hit the grocery store). The mark of every successful holiday food waste strategy is composed of 3 important steps:

Create a budget

Determining a solid food budget plays a huge role when it comes to reducing holiday waste. Not only does it help minimize the chance of overspending, but it also ensures you don’t buy too much. 

Count your guests

Once you have your budget, know the number of guests you’ll be hosting so you can be realistic about the amount of food you’ll need to purchase. Remember to consult your government’s COVID-19 guidelines before creating your guest lists to make sure you’re following proper safety protocols. 

Plan out your menu

Last but not least, plan your menu accordingly. Not creating a holiday meal plan means you’re increasing your chances of purchasing unnecessary items that, instead of winding up on your plate, will likely end up in your trash. 

2. Take stock

Before you write up your holiday shopping list, take some time to dig through your crowded cupboards and take stock of what you already have. This will help you avoid buying items in double—especially when it comes to common kitchen staples like dried herbs, spices, condiments, vinegars, etc. The best part? Already having the items you need for your holiday menu means you get to save money and avoid food waste. Talk about a win-win.

3. Prep your fridge

If you’re going grocery shopping for the holidays, it’s safe to say you’ll probably be coming back with a sizable food haul that’ll need to be stored properly. Since many of the items we buy need to be kept fresh until the big day (we’re looking at you, eight-pound turkey), it’s important to ensure your fridge is clean and has the room to accommodate all those delicious goodies before you bring them home. Not doing so could result in you throwing out perfectly good food in order to make room for your holiday haul because you either didn’t have room for it or couldn’t use it up in time--and nobody wants that.

4. Stick to your list 

It’s easy to get sucked into to-good-to-be-true food deals. Think of your holiday shopping list as your last line of defense against making poor last-minute food choices which would later result in food waste. That organic dragon fruit may be on special, but if it’s not on your menu, chances are it’ll just sit in your fridge, forgotten amongst the holiday food you’re actually planning on using. So once you cross that grocery door entrance, make sure to stick to your list. Not only will it help you stick to your budget, but it’ll also avoid unwanted food waste in the long run.

5. Store food correctly

The secret to keeping food fresh is simple: store it properly. Storing food in the right place helps reduce the aging process, keeping food at its best and making sure it lasts until you need to use it for your holiday dinner. That means putting your freshly bought raw turkey in your fridge no longer than two days; keeping your potatoes separate from your onions; and preserving your artisanal bread in a muslin bread bag at room temperature. For more tips and tricks, check out how to store food like a pro with our food storage guide.

6. Don’t overserve

How to reduce food waste this holiday season

Most of the holiday food waste occurs at the dinner table due to overserving. Remember the last time you ate at grandma’s for the holidays? Chances are you probably weren’t able to eat everything she piled onto your plate. The problem with overserving is that people will often leave food on their plates, which will, more often than not, end up in the garbage. That’s why when it comes to serving, portion control is key—and people can always ask for seconds. 

Another food-waste solution is to eat “family style.” This means putting everything on the table and letting people serve themselves so they can choose how much or how little they want.

7. Have a game plan for leftovers

The best part about your upcoming, epic holiday feast is the day-after-holiday leftovers. To ensure you get the most out of your holiday leftovers—and save them from going to waste—it’s important to draft up a game plan. Here are 4 foolproof ways to get the most out of your holiday leftovers:

  • Get into meal prepping. Post-holiday dinners are a great time to break out your tupperwares and prep your lunches or dinners for the week. Just make sure you store them in hermetically sealed containers so they stay good throughout the week. 
  • Get creative in the kitchen. Try out new recipes by transforming your leftover turkey into sandwiches or salads, or blitzing caramelized root vegetables into soups.
  • Prep your freezer. Freezing is an excellent way to save leftover food for later use. If you’re not planning on using up that extra gravy or tourtière anytime soon, store it in the freezer for one of those busy nights when you don’t have time to cook.
  • Give care packages. Feel free to ask your guests if they would like leftovers to bring home with them. It’s the perfect way to get rid of leftover food fast.

8. Donate a meal

The holidays are all about spreading the joy and giving back. An easy way to get rid of excess food that’s still good is by donating holiday treats to local food banks—because let’s be honest, you’re not really going to eat all 65 sugar cookies by yourself. You can also prep some leftovers and share them with someone you know who didn’t have Christmas dinner. It’s the perfect way to brighten their holiday, as well as reduce your food waste so the planet can have a merry one too.


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