Low Waste Holiday Meal Planning

Low Waste Holiday Meal Planning

Photo by cottonbro studio

Happy Holidays! It’s that time of the year when festive baking antics and holiday treat exchanges are in full swing. During this season, events feel like they're centered around lots and lots of food! 

And while I too love to indulge in massive holiday meal traditions and eat an excessive amount of cookies, it’s important to not overdo it. Amounts of food waste skyrocket at this time of year, with millions of pounds of food ending up in landfills all over the world.

We can play a small part in supporting sustainability with our food habits! Here are some simple low-waste tips to consider in your holiday meal planning this year.

Check the fridge first!

To effectively meal plan, you should always check your fridge first! See what foods you already have. What things are going to go bad soon? What ingredients do you have a lot of? Make a short list and base your meal plans on that.

Pick recipes that go together

Here’s where the planning comes in! It’s important to remember to pick holiday recipes that go together. Buying basic ingredients like potatoes and rice in bulk is usually cheaper anyway– so find recipes that use these similar ingredients in order to avoid unnecessary food waste!

One resource to help with this is Super Cook. This search engine allows you to input what ingredients you already have and helps you find thousands of recipes to make with them! It’s a lifesaver for low-waste cooking and saving money on excess groceries.

Buy only what you need

Before heading out to the grocery store make sure you have a complete list of ingredients that you actually need! A huge part of effectively low-waste meal planning is not overdoing it. Overconsumption is one of the leading causes of food waste, so only buy what you know you and your holiday guests will eat before they go bad.

Count on leftover meals

Leftovers happen! Your kids might not eat as much as you expect or there might be fewer people at the Christmas party than you plan for. Don’t stress about it! Instead, anticipate the leftovers for your meal plans in the days following. Remember to freeze the leftover foods that you won’t eat right away to keep them from going bad. Additionally, if you have extra ingredients that didn’t get used for a recipe, get creative and consider how you can make a new dish out of just those things.

Avoid single-use plastics

One of the most devastating parts of holiday gatherings is all the plastic waste that we end up having to throw away! While serving big meals with plastic plates and cutlery might make for an easier clean-up process, the long-lasting impact on our environment is far more harmful. Instead, try to use reusable dishes and ask friends and family to help with the cleanup. Or, if you really have to, opt for paper plates instead of plastic!

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