10 Tips To Avoid Food Waste This Holiday

Posted on December 19, 2015

We all know that the holidays give us an opportunity to celebrate with abundance - eating feasts with family and friends; enjoying treats; and my favourite, holiday baking! The downside is that we, as Canadians throw out over $30 billion in food each year! Most of that food waste ends up in landfills where instead of decomposing, ends up generating greenhouse gases.

So what to do? Give up holiday celebrations?  Absolutely not! Instead, you can still feast aplenty and by incorporating a few smart moves, you can save money and reduce food waste, too.

1. Plan your feasts & shop smart. Plan your menus (check out these apps) & try to find uses for items already in your fridge that are approaching their expiry dates; use grocery lists, and avoid impulse buys. That jar of olives or box of gourmet crackers on sale will likely not get consumed with all the fabulous food you already have planned so why buy it?

2. Master the Art of the Fridge. Check out the Ultimate Way to Organize your Fridge to help keep foods lasting longer  (hint: they don’t call it the “produce drawer” for nothin’!).

3. Tell guests what to bring. If you’re having a get together over the holidays with family or friends, they’re probably going to bring something. In order to avoid food waste, plan ahead for this and tell your guests to bring things you need. They'll appreciate the heads up and you'll appreciate the help!

4. Use it all. When cooking, try to use every piece of food you’re cooking with whenever possible (lots of veggie scraps actually contain mega nutrients!). For example, leave the skin on cucumbers and potatoes and sauté broccoli stems along with the florets (they taste good too; we promise).

5. Get the low down on fruits. Did you know that all produce gives off ethylene that among other things stimulates ripening? Storing fruit properly will help keep it lasting longer. If you do have overripe fruit, think about using them in smoothies, baking recipes like pies, or making jams & jellies.

6. Eat leftovers! This is my personal fave. How can you not appreciate the chance to avoid cooking while still enjoying something homemade & yummy? Lots of affordable re-usable containers are on the market and there are some great tips to re-heat leftovers, too. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat all the leftovers from a party, share with guests so they can take their faves home to enjoy.

7. Preserve the goodness. Got more fruit than you know what to do with? Try canning or freezing it so it’ll last for months to come. Make it a family holiday activity. Create chutneys, pickle vegetables, or make other great condiments. There are some great recipes available online!

8. Excess baking: Did you make too much cookie dough? (honestly, in my house, there's never too much cookie dough!) Most will freeze if properly wrapped and then you can pop them in the oven 2-3 months later when guests drop by or you just need a cookie fix. The same can be said for pastry and pie crusts.

9. Donate what you won’t use. Never going to eat that can of beans? Bought way too many boxes of pasta on sale? Donate it to a food kitchen or the food bank before it expires so it can be consumed by someone who needs it.

10. Educate other people. No need to get preachy. But just letting people know it's something you've decided to do because of some of the stats you've read about food waste and how easy it can be, may inspire others to incorporate some of these practices into their daily lives.

We're not asking you to curb your feasting and celebrations. All we hope for is that if all of us are just a bit more conscious, especially at this time of year, of how much food we'll be buying, let's be mindful of how we can reduce what we might normally waste. Let's all eat & cook responsibly this holiday season:)