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Strategies to Minimize Food Squander at Thanksgiving

Posted by Jean Buzby, USDA Food stuff Decline and Waste Liaison in

Foods and Diet
Health and Protection

Nov 17, 2020

A family sitting down to Thanksgiving
Before and soon after your Thanksgiving meal, contemplate these recommendations to lessen foodstuff squander.

Each and every yr, the typical American family members of 4 loses $1,500 to uneaten foods — which is about 1,160 lbs of foodstuff. With Thanksgiving all over the corner, it is well timed to assume about how we as men and women can preserve our household food items squander in check out.

Thanksgiving could be diverse this 12 months, but we can continue to have a specific celebration with a few changes. At the exact time, we can lessen our food items squander. For example, we may possibly not will need the turkey that serves 12 people when we have only 6 at the table. Whilst numerous of us like turkey sandwiches the following working day with a slice of pumpkin pie, we may possibly squander a ton of correctly excellent meals if we overprepare and do not consider ways to freeze or store leftovers effectively until eventually they can be eaten. Throwing away meals is a squander of money that could be employed somewhere else. As the USDA Foodstuff Reduction and Squander Liaison, I would like to share with you a few ideas that can help lessen food waste at our vacation foods and save you dollars.

Prepare your holiday break food

Before you go to the grocery retail outlet or buy on the net, plan and make a listing to lower the opportunity that you are going to purchase a lot more than you need. Analysis exhibits that creating a composed listing can support customers stay away from impulse buys, which may perhaps include meals they do not need to have. For turkey, a person rule of thumb is to prepare for 1 pound for every particular person, or a pound and a half if you want leftovers. For smaller-than-ordinary gatherings, take into consideration planning only the beloved relatives facet dishes to go with the primary training course. You may serve 1 form of your preferred rolls or dessert in its place of several. If you want to prepare all of your family’s common dishes, contemplate chopping recipes in half if you are cooking for less folks this yr. If you do have guests who want to provide a dish, coordinate in progress on who is cooking which dish.

When getting ready dishes, save the scraps for upcoming cooking

Freeze scraps like vegetable peelings and meat trimmings for your future culinary creations. Use them later on in savory broths and hearty soups to provide comforting warmth on chilly days. Or cook dinner the scraps to make other meals or ingredients. You can season potato peelings and bake them into chips, or sauté excess chopped onions to make recipe-ready caramelized onions.

Retail outlet or give absent leftovers

Position meals in clear containers marked with the contents and day. That can improve the likelihood that the leftovers in the fridge will be remembered and really eaten. If you have attendees who want leftovers, allow them pick out their favorite dishes so that their get-absent meals containers match what they will seriously delight in. For case in point, visitors who only like white turkey meat would very likely waste a leftover drumstick or wing.

Be artistic with your leftovers

My favorite submit-Thanksgiving treat was when my mother built fritters with the leftover mashed potatoes for breakfast the following day. Extra rolls and bread that are obtaining stale can be made into bread pudding. Consider about what your spouse and children did to save food items from currently being wasted and incorporate your own touch of creativeness. Try out your hand at creating home made turkey inventory with the bones, or make turkey chili with leftover meat. Whip further buttermilk or cream into French toast batter. You could even commence a new family custom of serving a pot of turkey soup on the weekend immediately after Thanksgiving.


If you have extra cans of pumpkin pie filling, green beans, or cranberry sauce, consider donating them to your nearby foodstuff financial institution to aid those in will need. Take a look at the Feeding America web site or EPA’s Excess Food items Opportunities Map to obtain a meals bank around you.

Never let your leftovers finish up in a landfill

The foods on your desk is the consequence of quite a few assets. Refreshing h2o, electrical power, land, and labor are utilised to create, system, transport, shop, market, and prepare that food items. Do what you can to continue to keep your foods out of landfills so that all of these sources are not squandered. Foodstuff rotting in landfills emits methane, a highly effective greenhouse gas, so by maintaining meals out of landfills you are serving to the weather.

A fantastic instrument that you can use in your residence to reduce food items waste is the FoodKeeper App, which supplies assistance on storage (e.g., in a refrigerator or freezer) for more than 650 meals and beverage things and assists you track storage occasions for unique meals. For illustration, for freshness and excellent, rotisserie hen really should be consumed in just three to four times when stored in fridge or within just 4 months if stored frozen. This app also provides advice on risk-free managing and preparation with beneficial cooking suggestions, such as how to thaw and roast a turkey by bodyweight. FoodKeeper is out there absolutely free as a cell software for Android and Apple units, or through desktop at


Composting your food stuff scraps can aid your backyard grow. Discover how to get started out with composting means from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Or, appear into community local community compost or compost selection/drop-off alternatives. A number of towns and counties across the nation are generating composting an selection for their residents. When composting, make absolutely sure to only toss organics in the selection container and keep out produce stickers and noncompostable plastic luggage, service ware, or utensils.

No make a difference how you celebrate Thanksgiving this yr, these recommendations and tools can support you minimize foodstuff waste while having fun with your holiday break.

For more studying:
USDA blogs on meals squander

Foodstuff and Nutrition
Well being and Security

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