Learn how to minimize your Food Waste during Thanksgiving

In the United States, 40 percent of food goes to waste. This is a time of family, friends, and food. Unfortunately, because of our individual habits and struggles of our national food systems, in 2013, $277 million worth of turkey ended up in the trash after Thanksgiving. 

Read the ReFed Annual 2020 Report


NRDC Update 2017 Food Waste Report

by clicking the following images to learn about national food solutions: 

Why Reducing Waste is More than Just Saving Food

Wasting food wastes more than food, it wastes all the resources needed to make the food. The EPA elegantly explains all the great things that reducing food waste does for the environment:

  • Saves resources: Wasted food wastes the water, gasoline, energy, labor, pesticides, land, and fertilizers used to make the food. When we throw food in the trash, we’re throwing away much more than food.
  • Reduces methane from landfills: When food goes to the landfill, it’s similar to tying food in a plastic bag. The nutrients in the food never return to the soil. The wasted food rots and produces methane gas. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas with more than 21 times the global warming potential compared to carbon dioxide. Learn how to start your own compost pile in our blog: https://davisfood.coop/composting-guide/
  • Returns nutrients to the soil: If you can’t prevent, reduce, or donate wasted food, you can compost. By sending food scraps to a composting facility instead of to a landfill or composting at home, you’re helping make healthy soils. Composting improves soil health and structure, improves water retention, supports more native plants, and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

So as part of showing thanks to our American food bounty, consider the following strategies to help you avoid wasting it this year on Thanksgiving.

What you can do while you shop

  • 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.
  • Plan ahead, make a list and compile ingredients from different recipes to avoid over buying. Be prepared to make conversions in the store, you may need 10 cups of flour, but it is sold by the pound. 
  • Resist the temptation to impulse buy, and buy in smaller quantities. Don’t be tempted by the big bag of pecans that are on sale when you only need a ¼ cup! Our Bulk Department is great way to only get what you need for recipes. 
  • Save a turkey! Instead of eating a turkey as the main course, consider adopting one from Farm Sanctuary! The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated in 2013 that $277 million worth of turkey ended up in the trash after Thanksgiving. The resources wasted from all that turkey is “equivalent to the amount of water needed to supply New York City for 100 days and greenhouse gases equal to 800,000 car trips from San Francisco to New York.”

What you can do while you prep

  • Resist the urge to cut off all the “ugly parts”; the wilted leaves, top of the beet, and leave the skin on the root veggies. Carrot, beet, and potato skins are full of nutrients! You can also eat squash skins, like delicata and acorn, but pumpkin and butternut may not get soft enough to really enjoy.
  • Set multiple timers! Hopefully nothing will burn and therefore less waste. 
  • Use ingredients you already have. If you accidentally bought celery but you already had some in the fridge, be sure to use the older one first. 
  • Save the veggie and meat scraps in the freezer to make broth with another time. Learn how to make Turkey Bone Broth from you Turkey Day Bird HERE
  • Last resort is to compost them. 

What you can do when it’s time to eat

  • Serve smaller portions, you can always go back for seconds! This will reduce the wasted scraps of food on all the plates.

What you can do with leftovers 

  • Turn those leftovers into something new with our Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Blog 
  • Freeze them to save for when you can stomach stuffing and cranberry sauce again! 
  • Save some of the dog-friendly items and mix them in with their normal food for a special meal too. Be cautious, dogs have a difficult time digesting chocolate, onions and garlic, and grapes are poisonous. 
  • Use the Turkey remnants to make broth!