Cutting Down on Holiday Food Waste

Find out easy ways you can prevent food waste this season


Aubrey Harrell, Editorial Board

One of the biggest staples of the holiday season is, without a doubt, the food. From Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas cookies, the holiday season provides multiple occasions to indulge in guilty pleasure food we might not otherwise get to enjoy throughout the year. While the surplus of different delicious holiday treats makes for a joyous holiday season, every year there’s an ugly consequence to the festivities that comes in the form of the abundance of excess food waste. Here are some easy ways to cut down on food waste this holiday season that everybody can partake in.

The EPA estimates that household waste increases by 25% during the holidays and that every year, an average of 216 billion dollars worth of food is wasted and trashed during the holiday season. This comes as a result of consumers nationwide overestimating how much food they’ll reasonably be able to ingest at the dinner table, with many preparing dishes with absurd proportions. A stigma around leftovers is also to blame, as leftovers are commonly perceived to be of lower quality and taste compared to having a new dish every night. An easy and efficient method of cutting down on food waste is to send your family members home with remaining leftovers from the table and encourage them to try to finish the dish. You can also reincorporate any leftovers into new recipes if said leftovers don’t taste very fulfilling anymore, and you can do so by simply searching for “holiday leftover recipes” online.

If you don’t feel like keeping leftover food around the house or there’s simply too much to go around, another option is to redistribute any leftover food to those less fortunate that may not have had the privilege of enjoying a festive feast. In 2015, it was estimated that around 42.2 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, meaning these families lacked a stable and adequate supply of food. It’s safe to assume that these families don’t have the opportunity to indulge in creamy mashed potatoes or perfectly cooked turkey during the holidays; so if you’re feeling generous, there are multiple options as to how to donate any leftover holiday food, a simple one being to donate to your local food pantry. Homeless shelters and non-profit charities also accept food donations, and a simple google search of shelters near you should direct you to multiple locations near your location that are accepting food donations. A few restaurant chains, such as Pizza Hut and KFC, are also working to cut down on food waste by donating leftover food from their establishments to shelters and charities. If you’re looking to discard any leftovers and you come across a restaurant chain that donates leftover food, feel free to contact them and ask if you can add your batch of leftovers to their daily donations.