Barber: Nine Ways to Cut Down on Food Waste This Holiday Season

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The holidays are a time of family gathering, festivities and satisfying feasts. Everyone gets excited about holiday meals, looking forward to things like heaping mashed potatoes, juicy turkey, tangy cranberry sauce and soft, buttery dinner rolls. After the feast, you’re left eating leftovers for days until they spoil and get thrown away.

Food waste during the holidays is a huge problem. Large amounts of food get tossed in the trash and needlessly go to waste every year. So, here are some ways to cut down on your holiday food waste this season.

  1. Plan for the number of people you will have, and shop accordingly.

Don’t buy more food than you need to feed everyone. Besides being less wasteful and more environmentally friendly, you’ll save money.

  1. Don’t cook more than you need.

After you finish all your shopping, only cook how much you think will be eaten. It’s okay to freeze extra food to avoid spoiling later on.

  1. If you do end up with too many leftovers, send some home with other people.

They’ll appreciate the food, and it is less wasteful. Everyone loves a good meal, and if they can have seconds, they’ll be overjoyed.

  1. If you still have too many leftovers, freeze some for later.

Freezing will preserve the food, and you can reheat it later when you’re craving more holiday food.

  1. Go get seconds.

Everything may look delicious, and it can be tempting to load your plate up. Start by taking small portions of everything. You can always go back for seconds, thirds or fourths. Ensuring that you don’t exceed reasonable portions will lead to fewer servings being tossed in the trash.

  1. Use a smaller plate.

Using a smaller plate makes it harder to take too much food. Smaller plates make portions look bigger. Smaller portions are actually healthier in the long run than if you were to divide food into massive servings.

  1. If you’re not sure you like something, take a little taste first.

If you end up enjoying it, you can always go back for more. If you don’t like it, you’re not pressured to eat something you hate, and that way, you won’t have to throw away food someone would gladly eat.

  1. Donate any unwanted food to your local food pantry (within reason).

When your Aunt Kathy brings over that fruit pie you hate, donate it to a nearby food pantry. Food pantry recipients love seasonal foods, and pantries are always in need of donations. Make sure you review your local pantry’s requirements. Most pantries won’t take opened items or leftovers. Check their website or call and talk to someone about requirements.

  1. Compost

Composting is a great way to get rid of unwanted materials. Things like corn cobs, tea bags, apple cores, plant stems, egg shells and more, can all be composted to make amazing fertilizer for your garden. It keeps excess from going to the dumpster and is much more environmentally friendly than throwing scraps out.

Have fun during the holidays, enjoy your winter break, eat delicious food, bake cookies and don’t forget to be environmentally aware by cutting down on food waste.

Shaelyn is a fourth year at the University of Utah studying Political Science and Journalism in the hopes that someday she can be a travel writer. She is especially passionate about social justice, LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights, and mental health awareness. In her (very rare) free time she loves to hike, paint, and read.

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