Thanksgiving will soon be upon us! This holiday causes me to reflect and be thankful for what I have. It also gets me thinking about what I take for granted on a daily basis that others would be grateful to have. One example of this is food. I have enough food, and sometimes too much, which can cause me to waste it at times.
The average daily food waste in the United States in 2010 was 1.18 pounds of food per person. This leaves us plenty of room for improvement! I am going to approach Thanksgiving being mindful of how much food my family is preparing. I also plan to use this holiday as an opportunity to reduce the amount of food we are wasting by following the tips below.
My four tips to reduce food waste at Thanksgiving:
1. Consider purchasing a turkey breast rather than an entire turkey. The turkey breast can be cooked in a shorter amount of time, is easier to cut and prepare, and results in fewer leftovers.
2. Keep your sides simple – less is more. Focus on two or three great side dishes rather than the “full spread”. This will save you time and stress. Three of my favorite side dishes from Spend Smart. Eat Smart.:
• Zesty Whole Grain Salad: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/zesty-whole-grain-salad
• Easy Roasted Veggies: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/easy-roasted-veggies
• No Knead Whole Wheat Bread: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/no-knead-whole-wheat-bread
3. Pack up leftovers to eat later. For safety, leftovers should be chilled to below 40 degrees within two hours of when they finish cooking. If your family will eat the leftovers within four days, store them in the refrigerator. If you will not, freeze them. Click here for ideas for using that leftover turkey, pumpkin and chopped veggies.
4. Donate to those in need: Find your local food bank, and donate excess or unused food to those in need. Or even better yet, consider donating a few dollars to your local food bank or pantry.
Have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving and enjoy doing more with less!
Rachel Wall is a registered dietitian and Iowa native who enjoys family, friends, food, and the Cyclones!