It’s that time of year when most of us don’t think twice about getting a second helping or even a third at the annual holiday get-togethers. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but how often do you find yourself throwing away those extra helpings because you’re too stuffed to fit them down? This year, pledge to reduce food waste during the holidays. Fortunately, that’s pretty easy to do.
Portion control is a good thing.
If we know what’s on the menu, then we already know how much of it we want to consume, but how much do we need? If you already know what’s cooking for your next holiday gathering, go ahead and decide what’s most important to your taste buds, and leave the unknown to chance. Focus on what you really know you’ll enjoy and eat responsibly. If you still have room left after that, then you should taste test the new stuff – just don’t get a heaping helping until you know for sure it’s what you’re craving.
Helpful tip: the average human only needs between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day, and an average holiday meal has at least 3,000 calories per plate.
Develop a Plan-of-Action
If you’re the host or hostess, then this section is for you!
Do you plan everything, or do you fly by the seat of your pants? Regardless, it’s still a good idea to plan your holiday dinner menu. Take inventory and create a menu that will feed each person equally. It’s sort of like planning a wedding reception. You’ll truly benefit from creating a guest list and accommodating that rather than winging it and ending up with a ton of leftover food that you’ll never be able to consume by yourself. Aside from the fact that you’d be wasting tons of food, you’d also be wasting money.
Side note: Consider catering.
Embrace the possibilities of leftovers.
If you’re making a traditional meal with all the fixins’, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by planning ahead and thinking of creative ways to use the leftovers. Instead of shoving them all into boring plastic bowls that will likely be forgotten and eventually trashed, you could make some really yummy meals and snacks for days to come. Ever had turkey salad? OMG…it’s delicious! If you’re making ham, you can make some seriously savory meals with the leftovers. Take, for instance, ham salad, ham casserole, ham frittatas, or a plain ham sandwich. The same goes for turkey. Those meats can go a long way. If you’re not up to making use of your leftovers, you can certainly freeze them for later use as well.
BONUS! Leftover recipe ideas: mashed potato pancakes, loaded potato bites, fried stuffing bites with cranberry sauce, open-face turkey and stuffing sandwiches, turkey a la king, turkey noodle casserole, turkey pot pie, romaine salad w/ turkey and cranberry…
You could be an exceptional party planner and have doggie bags with leftovers ready to distribute as your guests are walking out the door. Sure, not everyone is going to take them, but at least you’ll have them packed up and ready for those who will! If nobody wants them, well then, you’re already prepared when tomorrow’s lunchtime comes around.
Now that you no longer have an excuse to mindlessly throw away perfectly edible food, you can feel great about yourself and start the new year off with a bang because you did it. You made use of every single scrap and you got ALL your money’s worth. You will also have the skills to be on the next episode of Chopped. Good luck keeping the in-laws entertained, and Happy Holidays!