1. Downsize the Turkey
We’re not turkey eaters anymore, but obviously a lot of people are. When we did eat turkey, we always got one that was too big and ended up throwing away at least half of it. Either we couldn’t eat it all and it ended up going bad in the back of the fridge, or we’d freeze it and forget about it until it was covered in freezer burn. Whichever way our leftovers went bad, it was just a super sad situation. If you don’t have too many people, there’s no requirement to roast a whole turkey. You can roast a chicken, or if you really want turkey, you can just pan roast a breast.
2. Amp up the Veggies
If you’re not wedded to turkey, you can also just make a million sides. Let’s be real: the sides are the best part of Thanksgiving! We get our vegetables from Hungry Harvest, so we avoid waste by rescuing produce that’s too ‘ugly’ for stores (but honestly, most of the produce is perfect). We find out what we’re getting a few days in advance, and then we plan how to make the most of our box. Last year we made mashed potatoes, corn pudding, green beans, sweet potato gratin, fried brussels sprouts, and the obligatory cranberry sauce. Since we were using the produce we would have gotten anyway, we also didn’t spend any extra money for our Thanksgiving feast.
3. Save your scraps
We keep a bag tucked in the freezer door to save veggie scraps. Once it’s full, we put the scraps in a big pot, cover them with water, add herbs and garlic to taste, and simmer on super low for a few hours until we have a perfect veggie stock. You can use the stock right away or freeze it to use later. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to do this, and you can even throw scraps in the slow cooker and have stock ready in time to make gravy. If you have a turkey, do this the next day with turkey bones instead of veggie scraps.
4. Leftovers Can be for Anytime
I know some people don’t love leftovers. It definitely gets old eating the same meal over and over again for a week. That can drive anyone to give up and order a regrettable amount of Chinese food that just makes the leftover problem worse (not that we’re speaking from experience, we just heard this from a friend). One way to repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers so they still feel fresh and fun is to have them for breakfast. Toss some turkey in an omelet, make mashed potatoes into cakes and top them with a poached egg, or make one of our favorites: sweet potato pancakes topped with cranberry sauce. Just pop ¾ c mashed sweet potatoes with 1 ½ c pancake mix, 2 T oil, and 1 c. water.
We hope these tips help you and your family and friends have a beautiful zero-waste Thanksgiving! Keep the tips coming and let us know how you’ll fight food waste this holiday!