Your guide to a Thanksgiving dinner without wasting food


Even if you've spent the whole year reducing your consumption of plastic, eating less red meat and saving water, you're probably about to waste Thanksgiving. It's the nature of holidays. We eat a lot and that means we generate a lot of waste and throw a lot of food.

This year can be different. Here's a step-by-step guide to minimizing the waste of your turkey day.

First step: the planning phase

It should not be a shock. As with most things, planning is the key. But what should you prioritize when organizing a no-waste treat?

Know who's coming, what they want and how much they are going to eat

Unfortunately, having a party in an open house is not the best option to reduce waste. Start your environmentally friendly vacation by compiling a list of guests, stat. Then send a text message or call everyone to ask what are the three or four foods they want to eat the most. The dishes that more than three quarters of your guests will be waiting for are the ones you should prepare. (Of course, everyone who cooks gets the right of veto. nobody the rest are interested in eating your five favorite foods, maybe you should choose one or two.)

A firm number of guests allows you to plan portions, which is where most Thanksgiving dinners will really derail. We want to create the perfect image of a table that really hits with the generosity of this year's harvest, but that often means more food than necessary.

The famous Chef Jet Tila applies the following guidelines, per person and per serving:

  • Protein 4-8 oz (1/2 cup to 1 cup)
  • Starches 4-8 oz
  • Vegetables 4-6 oz

It's per serving, he noted in an email, so "big eaters" should be counted two or three times in each dish. You can make more food than your guests need to survive. The goal is to make sure you do not do more than they do want to.

For a quick and easy way to determine the appropriate number of servings for each of your dishes, check out the Natural Resources Defense Council's "Guest-Imager" tool. This widget allows you to enter the number of people you expect (divided into appetite categories for increased accuracy) as well as the type and number of dishes you want to prepare, then spit out the recommended portions for each recipe.

It may sound crazy, but consider dropping the turkey

Most chefs recommend a pound of turkey per guest. But you'd be hard-pressed to find a bird weighing less than 3 kilograms in your local grocery store, so smaller family gatherings will end up with too much meat. If you wait for less than a dozen people, consider alternatives to an entire bird. You can also make stuffed turkey breast, soup spoon and roast chicken, use another kind of meat, or eat no meat. The sides are the best!

Assuming you do not trade turkey for a piece of giant red meat, you will certainly make your meal a more environmentally friendly meal if you do not devour it.

Step Two: Choose your recipes carefully

It's easy to open a hundred recipe recipes and use Thanksgiving as an excuse to prepare them all. But being more selective with your menu can go a long way.

No single ingredient

One of the most effective tips for minimizing losses is to make sure you do not buy any ingredients that will not be part of another dish. That's not to say that you can not make a recipe with specialized ingredients, but that you have to stop and ask yourself if it's possible to buy that ingredient in a small enough serving to prevent it from occurring. Put it in the back of your refrigerator. In a pinch, at least Google how to best preserve this food as long as possible. You can keep it in the freezer until another holiday.

Full recipes

No those Whole foods. Try to choose recipes that use parts of the vegetable or bird that you usually throw away. You can use turkey meats to prepare a delicious sauce, or sanitize your mashed potatoes (keep the skin) for more vitamins. Different carrot soups will taste just as delicious with the heads. The ends of cheeses used in other dishes can be combined to create an indulgent meal. hors d & # 39; work spread. Make desserts with bruised apples and bananas that are already hitting around your fridge. Cook and eat your beet leaves. If a recipe requires you to discard an edible food, find another use or choose a different dish.

If in doubt, avoid meat

No one asks you to have a vegan Thanksgiving (unless that's what you like). But if butter and heavy cream may seem inevitable, meat is not necessarily essential. Whether you're preparing a main protein dish like turkey or chicken or sticking to the sides, try to limit the use of animal products to dishes where the flavors will have a real impact. In other words, do not put sausage and cheese in everything because it's easy. You will reduce the water and carbon emissions associated with your meal if you make sure there is more green than cream.

Third step: the grocery store is a battlefield

All your planning will be futile if you do not properly execute your shopping trip. Here are some guidelines:

Stop doing regular shopping the week before

This will minimize the classic stacking of leftovers once the meal is over. Your fridge should be as close as possible to the void when you do your Thanksgiving shopping. This will make your life easier while you cook and give you the opportunity to have well-organized leftovers. You do not want your turkey day to hide your milk because the month of November becomes December.

Start by shopping in your fridge

Now that your refrigerator and pantry are thorny, open it up and take a close look at the food left over. Absolutely Browse your recipe shopping lists to make sure you do not already have the ingredients you need. And if you have a large pile of food or products withering in your crisper, consider changing the menu at the last minute to incorporate it. Do not forget: you'll probably end up ignoring the food in your fridge for the remnants of Thanksgiving, and they'll go bad. It's worth finding a way to mix them. Discover these tips to revive products that are old.

Be less difficult than usual (at least for the idiotic)

Lean Thanksgiving is not just a question of reduction you discard. Much of the food that America sends to landfills never even reaches a refrigerator or closet. We like our products to look good, which means that buyers tend to ignore products that are bruised or about to turn, and our rather arbitrary system of expiry dates and better dates means stores often eliminate mass the "bad" foods.

Since you are probably shopping for Thanksgiving shortly before the holidays, take all your time to pick up items with an expiry date fast approaching. If a fruit or vegetable needs to be diced or mashed and boiled, look for a product that looks a little funny. You do not need sweet potatoes that you are about to cover with marshmallows and brown sugar to be pretty. Aim to buy all the Charlie Brown Christmas trees from the fruit and vegetable department.

For the love of God, bring a shopping list

You are not as good at shopping on the fly as you think. If you go so far in the cluttered shop without a well-prepared list, we can not help you. If you want to make extra effort, choose a store that allows you to use bulk containers. In this way, you can reduce waste paper and plastic.

Step Four: Cook Consciously

Before starting your culinary adventure, prepare containers for waste, recycling and compostable waste. On your marks, ready? Go.

Bones and leftover vegetables are your friends

If you have a pressure cooker, now is the time to shine (and if you do not have one, there is still time to get one!). Start by preparing your vegetable and put aside the leftovers that you do not plan to use elsewhere. Cover these bad boys with water and make a delicious vegetable broth to use … well, whatever you do that calls broth. The sauce is the obvious choice.

Put leftover veggies left in the bag in a bag with small turkey bones, then throw in a casserole or press to do even more. This will be helpful when dealing with leftovers that even the most meticulous chef is required to keep.

Compost, compost, compost!

If you do not usually compost, now is the time to start. All food waste other than meat should be in a container for composting. You can keep everything in the freezer if you do not have your own composting operation. After the holidays, look for your nearest composting center and drop it off. If you compile everything you can and make sure you recycle as much as you can, you'll have a head start on most households in terms of environmental friendliness.

Use real dishes, but do not wash them by hand

You might think you are saving water, but you are not. Just use the dishwasher dang. And it goes without saying that you will be more wasteful if you serve things on paper plates.

Step Five: When eating, take your rhythm

On the one hand, the food is only really wasted when he finds himself in the trash. On the other hand, you probably consume more food than you need, or you actually want it. I mean, how many times do you have do not to have a stomach ache for Thanksgiving?

Americans tend to accumulate a pound or two (at least) every holiday season and it takes a whole year to get back to your lowest weight. Reduce food waste and weight gain from one shot by starting with smaller portions. You can always eat later!

Step 6: You will have leftovers

As careful as you plan your feast, the fact that you want to avoid the misstep of serving too small the food means you will have at least some leftovers. Do not let them sit in the fridge become rude.

Make sure you have a game plan

Check in your bacon storage containers of various shapes and sizes. If you do not have such devices, now is the time to buy them.

If you have planned your kitchen carefully – and you have minimized unused food during the holidays in the refrigerator – you should have enough space to store leftovers organized and labeled. By avoiding a clutter of aluminum foil and half-eaten pies, you'll be more likely to notice and eat those second- and third-day treats. Put the foods that go wrong faster in front. If you have a vacuum sealer, use it.

Get creative, then become even more creative

If you tend to shed most of your leftovers, it is probably the trouble that is to blame. Take a look at your premium on Thursday night and note some recipes that remix the most hearty items, and commit to making them on Friday or Saturday.

Internet is full of ideas about it, but here are some of them. Chef Jet Tila says that he likes to use cranberry sauce to replace jam or jelly in all dishes – try it in oatmeal or on toast! PopSci Editor-in-Chief Joe Brown recommends Boxing Day pie. The turkey soup is obvious (just use the carcass as a base for the broth, then add some of the leftover meat), and Tila suggests boosting the flavor with a ham bone, if any. He also likes to use stuffing instead of breadcrumbs to prepare a meatloaf, which is frankly delicious. You can also grill in the oven to make croutons and bake pancakes with the remaining mashed potatoes. Desserts may be the most difficult to mix, but here's an amazing recipe to turn your pumpkin pie into turkey curry.

Thanksgiving is basically a greedy party. But if you follow these steps, or even if you follow one or two, you can enjoy your pie. and thank for the premium of the planet in a way that does not help to destroy it.