5 Tips for a More Sustainable Thanksgiving

October is a special time of the year. Friends and family gather over delicious feasts, sharing cheers with full glasses, and engorging on delectable desserts. Amidst the celebrations, the amount of food waste generated can slide under the radar. In fact, Thanksgiving is one of the most wasteful days of the year when it comes to wasted food that is thrown in the trash. By following along with these tips, you can challenge the status quo and host a low-waste Thanksgiving dinner for your friends and family!

Confirm your guest list first. The best way to reduce food waste? Prepare less! If you have six guests to serve, you don’t need a turkey that feeds twelve. Before preparing your meal plan or making any purchases, confirm exactly how many people will be attending AND confirm any allergies or preferences. If four of the six guests don’t eat carrots, then you don’t need as many carrots as you may have thought. Starting with this steps will make it easier to reduce food waste right off the start.

Prepare a meal plan and portions. Before you start harvesting or shopping, create a detailed meal plan of what dishes you will be offering. Be sure to identify how much of each ingredient you need for the intended portions. Cross reference your plan with the guests’ preference. Notice you put down cranberries but no one likes them? Cross it off the list. Next, cross reference your list with what your guests are bringing (if they are contributing anything). Remember that your friend is bringing a pumpkin pie but you have it on your list too? Cross it off! Not sure who’s bringing what? Give them a call first.

Shop local and shop small. When it comes to grocery shopping, first turn to your own garden or the garden of your guests. Need potatoes? See if any of the guests attending have some potatoes in their gardens that they are willing to contribute. Not only does this help use food you already have available, but it also reduces costs and gives them bragging rights for growing such tasty potatoes. Still need groceries? Try shopping locally such as attending the Lethbridge Farmers Market on Saturday October 9th. Also be sure to shop in small quantities. If you only need a few teaspoons of a certain spice, consider going to Bulk Barn and getting the quantity you need. This reduces overbuying and throwing out extras.

Keep your food scraps. The day has arrived and you’re working hard in the kitchen. You chop the potatoes and carrots, tossing the scraps. Stop! Don’t put them in the garbage or even the compost. Set them aside so you can put them to use and get more tasty snacks out of them. From a delicious soup stock to veggie peel crisps, check out our article on “4 recipes to use up your food scraps” to further reduce your food waste.

Put your leftovers to use. The day of the feast, encourage your guests to bring their own reusable containers so they can take home any leftovers. This way, you reduce packaging waste, distribute the bounty, and take some of the responsibility of reducing food waste off your hands. The bones from the turkey can be saved and used to make a tasty soup, and anything else can make a great lunch for the next day. Not sure what to do with the leftovers? A multitude of recipes are just a Google search away!

This October, make your fall feast even better by adding a sustainable twist! Thanksgiving is the second most wasteful day of the year, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Applying these 5 tips to your special dinner can help tackle food waste at the source.

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