Grateful, not wasteful.

Each fall, Americans welcome the Thanksgiving holiday as a time to celebrate the bounty and blessings the year has brought.  From feasts with family to fun with friends, many of us enjoy sharing with those around us. But being grateful doesn’t mean being wasteful. 

We seem to have forgotten the point when “enough” becomes “too much”.  Year after year, we waste nearly 40% of our food.  In 2016, an estimated 204 million pounds of turkey meat from Thanksgiving will get tossed in the trash — wasting nearly $280 million!  When you consider how many Americans go hungry every day, this is almost intolerable. 

Instead of over-stocking (and over-eating), the Natural Resource Defense Council has some great tips in their Save The Food campaign.  It’ll open your eyes and might help your bottom line, and your waist line, as you prepare for the yummy season.

Looking for ideas on how to combat the urge to over-give?  Dana Gunders, author and food-waste expert, suggests the following tips to help:

  • Plan portions.  Consider how many dishes you will have available.  In a typical meal, you may prepare three-to-four items and have a set serving size.  If you’re doubling or tripling that count, you should reduce the serving size and, therefore, the amount coming.  If it’s potluck you’re serving, give guests permission to bring enough smaller portions for the table. 
  • Plan for leftovers.  If you’re serving turkey and planning on making sandwiches, buy bread.  If you’re making soup, get the fixings.  Use what’s left.  Plan your meals over the next few days.  Get creative so you can consume what’s left before it begins to age. 
  • Share the bounty!  Invite guests to bring containers that can be resealed so they can bring leftovers home for themselves — especially meaningful if it’s potluck and they’ve been given a taste of something new and delicious! 
  • Cook creative.  There are lots of recipes for leftovers.  Turkey sandwiches, ham spread, chopped brisket — and don’t forget the multitude of soups that each can make.  Always a nice idea to have the recipes for each dish at dinner available either for those watching what they eat or for those looking to duplicate the deliciousness!
  • Fast freeze.  Cooked food can be portioned and frozen — just wait until it’s cooled down before popping it in the sub-zero!  Gravy can be poured into an ice-tray and used later in single-servings.  Potatoes can be frozen into pancakes.  Veggies can be chopped and frozen to be tossed into an omelet later.

Let’s give thanks for the wonderful opportunities we have.  And let us also remember those who are going without this and every holiday.  Invite those living alone over for dinner.  Share dessert with the neighbors.  Give of your time at a food bank or kitchen to help feed the less fortunate.  Nothing will make you appreciate what you have more than sharing with those who don’t. 

Stay warm and stay safe.

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