As mentioned in an earlier post, we create an additional 25% more waste over the holiday period, and a part of that can be attributed to the increase in holiday parties this time of year. Food waste in America is actually a big problem – some statistics say that 40% of food is wasted between farm to plate. Forty percent. An average family throws away 300 pounds of food each year. That’s a lot of food, a lot of money, and it doesn’t even take into account all the resources that went into getting that food from farm to plate either. For anyone who wants to geek out on food waste – and learn a ton of great tips fro preventing it and reducing wasted food – check out SaveTheFood.org. I especially love their recipes that are specifically geared to making use of food that may normally get tossed. (Check out this soup that uses the whole carrot!) Now, here are some tips so you’re not adding to the problem.
Plan,to Avoid Leftovers
If you’re hosting a party, sketch out a meal plan so you don’t buy – and waste – too much food. Delegating out what guests can bring? Be realistic. Everyone is not going to eat a slice of every kind of pie, so make sure you have all your bases covered but not to excess. Also, if you have a big meal planned, don’t fill your guests tummies with a lot of appetizers. That will ensure the big meal isn’t eaten and a lot will just go to waste. Hiring a caterer for a bigger event? Make sure they have correct numbers of people who will attend so they can plan accordingly.
Plan for Leftovers Anyway
Whether you are hosting a big meal, or attending a catered office holiday party, no matter how well you planned to avoid leftovers, you will still have some, so plan for how to transport them home. Ask guests to bring their own containers, have some back up zip lock bags available, or ask the caterer to set out To Go boxes. If there are platters that haven’t even been touched, look into your local food bank to see if they will accept a donation. Still have a bunch of leftovers? The freezer is your friend, your pause button on that food’s lifespan. Use it liberally.
Don’t have enough cups and plates to serve everyone? Your impulse may be to grab some disposables, but that just adds to the excess of holiday waste Americans are bringing to the curb this time of year. It’s important to remember that like many communities, plastic or paper cups and plates are not recyclable here in Deschutes County. Take a quick trip to any thrift store right now and you can stock up on everything you need, and even score on some holiday themed varieties if you choose. The best part? Donate it all back to them after the party. You don’t have to store if for a whole year, and you get to find a new set again next year! If you don’t stock up on extra reusable cups or glasses yourself, you can always ask your guests to BYOC – Bring Your Own Cup. Really, it works. (And they will remember which cup is their’s throughout the night, reducing wasted drinks, cups and your clean up in the morning.)
Prevent. Eat. Share. Donate. Freeze. Cook. Then Compost.
Composting is great, and way better for our environment for many reasons than feeding a landfill. But this should be the last in a line of other wasted food tips. Fresh fruit and veggie waste can be composted in your backyard bin or yard debris bin if you have that service. For other food waste, if you’re having it at a facility that you are renting out, check with their policies as they may participate in commercial composting for the rest of your food. If you’re having it at a restaurant that already participates in composting, they will be doing this as part of their regular cleaning up. When you are booking a restaurant for an event, it’s good to ask if they compost. (This service is available to businesses like restaurants and supermarkets in Bend & Redmond City limits). If they don’t already do this, they may be encouraged to participate if enough customers request this service, so it doesn’t hurt to ask!
If you liked this, you may be interested in our other recent holiday related blogs, Handmade Holidays or Experience Based Gift Ideas. For more ideas, check out our page on how to Reduce Waste Over the Holidays.