Don’t Waste Your Food!

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to celebrate with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and even strangers. The months of November and December are notorious for being holiday central, with decorations everywhere, holiday music playing, families travelling to see loved ones, big parties being planned, and a general aura of holiday cheer in the air. 

It is some people’s favorite time of the year (it very well might be mine). Of course, I encourage everyone to celebrate the holidays! But I want to point out that holidays are the number one time of the year in which food is wasted.

Think about it. Think about all the get-togethers you have during the holiday season. Think about the Thanksgiving dinner you recently had, think about the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals you will have, and think about the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day parties and dinners you will have. What do they all have in common? Food. For the most part, there is a big dinner on at least one of these days, if not all of them. 

You may host a dinner at your home, or you may go to someone else’s home for dinner, or you may go out to a restaurant, but there will be food and drinks and dessert all the same.  

Food celebrations are wonderful, of course, but an exuberant amount of food is wasted during these times. 

So, how can we limit our food waste during the holidays? Be mindful of this maxim: “Only buy what you need and use what you buy.” 

Too often during the holidays we go all out and buy anything and everything we can to ensure that we have an abundance of food and options for those who will be eating with us. This isn’t bad in and of itself, but it can become extremely wasteful when we overbuy foods, drinks, and desserts and are then left with a large amount of leftovers that we will never finish (think about how many leftovers there were after your recent Thanksgiving meal).  

This may be easier said than done, but try to think about how much food you actually need before buying for the holidays. Still, stuck? 

Here are some helpful tips to reduce your food waste this holiday season:

  1. If hosting a dinner, determine the exact number of guests whom you will be feeding (or a close estimate). Get enough food, drinks, snacks, and desserts to feed that number of people without going overboard.
    1. It helps to know how many of your guests like or do not like certain foods (or have food allergies), so try to ask them before buying.
    2. Read the small print. Most items state on the box or cover how many people they can feed.
  2. If you are visiting as a guest, don’t make excessively large plates for yourself. It is better to make smaller plates and go back for more if you are still hungry.
    1. Let the host know if you have an allergy to certain things or will not eat them, as it can help the host estimate how much of it to buy.
  3. If going out to a restaurant, yes, by all means, splurge on appetizers and desserts, but do not order more than you can realistically eat. You know what your limit is!
    1. If you are unsure whether you can eat everything you want, order one item at a time. Only order the next item when you have finished the first and still have room for more.
    2. If you are unsure whether you like something, suggest splitting it with someone else at the table.
  4. ***Whether you are hosting, visiting as a guest, or going out to a restaurant, wrap up leftovers and eat them the next week!
    1. If the leftovers are too much or you don’t want them, ask others if they want any.

Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!