5 Ways to Cut Down on Food Waste This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time of plenty, and many people cook substantially more food than they actually eat. Sadly, that means a lot of this special meals ends up getting thrown away.

Here’s how to cut down on your food waste this year.

1. Plan for Your Leftovers

Leftovers are easy to set in the refrigerator and forget about — and that means they’re destined for the trash can or compost pile.

Instead, set yourself up for success. Figure out a few recipes that you want to make with the remaining food before you start cooking for the big event. Is there something that’s hard to repurpose? Make less of it.

Kitchen Treaty offers some great ideas for salvaging the remnants of a vegetarian or vegan meal.

2. Give Your Food Away

Share your bounty. Send guests home with leftovers, and donate unused ingredients to a food pantry. You can also package up part of the remaining meal in containers to pass on to homeless people on the street.

Remember to always ask politely, rather than forcing food on folks. Providing a set of utensils and a bottle of water is always a nice touch.

3. Control Your Cooking

As with anything, cutting down on the food you make in the first place is the best way to cut down on food waste this Thanksgiving. Once you get your guest list together, take a moment to estimate how much food everyone will eat.

The Food Network provides a helpful guide for determining how much to cook per person. With mashed potatoes, for instance, use one large Yukon gold potato for each person.

4. Make the Right Dishes

Most people don’t prepare foods with the intention of throwing them away. But making large amounts runs that risk. Minimize your impact by deliberately cooking a meal with ingredients that consume fewer resources.

The Washington Post once estimated that a traditional Thanksgiving meal could emit over 10 pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – for just one person. Consider going meat-free for the holiday. Even if you aren’t vegetarian, trying a new dish like a mushroom bourguignon in place of turkey can be both delicious and sustainable.

You can also prep your meal with irregular produce. The organization Ugly Produce is Beautiful can help guide you towards creating a new world where 40 percent of produce doesn’t get thrown away each year.

5. Freeze with Enthusiasm

If you’re worried about using leftovers in time, don’t forget you can preserve many in the freezer.

Martha Stewart suggests pouring remaining gravy into ice cube trays or muffin tins. Stuffing stays good in the freezer for three months. Remember to divide your leftovers into manageable portions for individual meals, so you don’t have to defrost and refreeze.

With a little bit of planning, cutting food waste for Thanksgiving becomes a way less daunting task.

How will you do your part this year? Feel free to share in the comments.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Caitlin L
Past Member 4 months ago


Janis K
Janis K4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

John W
John W4 months ago


Mia B
Melisa B4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Michael Friedmann
Michael Friedmann4 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Dave fleming
Past Member 4 months ago


Salla T
Salla T4 months ago


Thomas M
Past Member 4 months ago


Janis K
Janis K4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Ruth S
Ruth S4 months ago