4 Ways to Reduce Thanksgiving Food Waste


As the time for safely gathering around the table on Thanksgiving nears, so does the big question, “What’s for dinner?”

Each year, consumers purchase over 700 million pounds of turkey and about 30%, or 200 million pounds, are thrown out after Thanksgiving. All in, the water used to raise those tossed turkeys could supply New York City for 100 days.

But before we even get to talking turkey, here are some tips for how to plan ahead for the big day and reduce food waste.

Check yourself
Before heading to the store, scan your cabinets for any rogue cans of cranberry sauce, pumpkin puree, vegetables, or bags of marshmallows. Then make your list (and check it twice).

Plan ahead—but prepare for the unexpected
Once you finalize the guest list, take a spin through the National Resources Defense Council’s Guest-imator to calculate how much you’ll need to prepare. (It will even ask you how many leftover meals you want to aim for!) To that end, when coordinating the final details, encourage your guests to bring their own to-go containers for takeaways.

If something goes haywire during the big day, there might be a way to save it, whether that means popping in a raw, peeled potato to address oversalting or an ice water soak to revive wilted veggies.

Stock up on stock
With the concept of an all-day cooking marathon looming, the last thing on your mind is probably preparing to make turkey stock, but you can cut down on the workload by taking small steps along the way. The Kitchn suggests starting with an empty container, throwing in some leftover celery from stuffing or carrots before glazing, and then you’re ready to add water and simmer with the leftover turkey bones. It’s a great way to use food you might have thrown out instead and you can stock your freezer for future feasts!

Give leftovers a second chance
Besides the ubiquitous turkey sandwiches, Food52 has some creative ideas on how to keep the edible celebration going–think turkey hash salad or turkey breakfast burritos. Got leftover cans from the trip to the grocery store that are unopened? Consider donating them to your local food bank.

While Thanksgiving can sometimes be a waste-filled and stress-filled holiday, we hope that these four tips help you cut down on guesswork this year. From all of us here at Afresh, we wish you and yours a happy, joy-filled Thanksgiving.