Holiday season is here! Street lights, shining faces, happy faces, decorations on every window ….. Simply wow! I am so in love with these snowy days!
But more than anything, I enjoy time spent with my friends having Friendsgiving, family on thanksgiving, Christmas and staying at home Netflix or board game nights with friends, wine and laughs.
Whether it be get togethers with old friends, sitting with family, eating desserts, cups of hot chocolate - it truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
But there is one thing apart from laughs and cherished moments with friends and family that holidays bring along are its LEFTOVERS! Being a food lover myself, it's hard to see food getting wasted.
There are some many recipes that I want to make on holidays but avoid just with the fear of leftovers. Every year, around 200 million pounds of turkey meat is thrown away in thanksgiving week alone. In U.S around 5 million of food goes to waste between Thanksgiving and New Years time alone.
Here are some tips on how to reduce food waste this holiday season!
- Repurpose – Generally in these winter holidays the major leftovers are turkey, ham and other meat. These could be used to make hot stews, chilis and soups. Huge amount of leftover meat could be used in dishes like lasagna. The leftover veggies tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, broccoli and other veggies that could be used to make omelets and frittatas, for example. If you are still confused about how to put these leftovers into a dish, you could explore the number of online apps where you could simply add all the ingredients you have in your fridge and it would provide you a recipe.
- Store Items that Perish Quickly in Freezer – Now you don’t want to cook all leftover stuff and make another stack of dishes in your fridge. Also eating same food for long might be boring. So, another way to save the leftover items is by moving more perishable items into the freezer and cook when needed.
- Store All Food Properly
The storage location of the food in fridge matters a lot in storing it for longer in a fresh condition. The items like milk will stay safe from being sour if kept in the lower shelf in comparison to top shelf since lower shelves are colder than top ones. On the hand other dairy products like cheese and yogurt should be kept in tight sealed containers and in the top shelves. While storing one major thing should be kept in mind that you are not storing the food which has already become badly stale. To be safe it is best if you store the leftovers within an hour or two hours after cooking.
Also don’t get confused with the dates on the label. There are two separate dates given on the food items one is sell by date which is to be checked by the retailer and the other is use by date which should be seen by the consumer. The sell by date tells the retailer for how long they could keep this item at their shelves to sell. It is not a consume/use by date.
The container in which you are keeping the leftovers is very important to decide how long could you use these dishes. The best is if you could keep them in small containers. Small containers reduces the chances of bacteria growth. Store the vegetables and fruits in separate compartments or containers since they release different gases which could impact the already cooked food or other items in the fridge.
Avoid storing anything in fridge in open cans since it leads to faster spoilage of food.
- Food bags for guests – I always send people with little bags of food packed with them. Since most of the parties tend to end late so it is very relaxing for guests also to wake up late in the morning and not to worry about what to eat? In these holidays get togethers it is obvious that the host will have plethora of leftovers at the end so encourage the guests to bring Tupperware or other containers with them. If not, try to lend them your reusable containers, as zip lock bags are always a last resort. Food bags for guests are another way to extend the holidays!
- Dog Food – Even dogs deserve to enjoy this holiday season. Prepare dog food out of leftovers and giveaways at dog shelters. Be careful while preparing the food for them and do complete research since there are many human eating foods which dogs don’t eat like (onions, grapes, chocolates, some spices and raisins).
- Planned Buying – This is the most easy way to preserve your kitchen from leftovers. Many people which includes me as well who be afraid of running out of food or other stuff so usually, I end up buying more with the fear that guests will be left hungry!
The fear of turning out to be a bad hostess!!
So, the best way to do is to learn from your previous parties and plan accordingly for next time. Survey how much food is leftover after the party and accordingly for next time. In order to manage the fear of running out of food, buy whatever you feel right but don’t cook all. Cook keeping track of last time’s leftover. This way you could return the leftover uncooked items back after the party, or save for another feast!
People often buy food counting the number of heads who are going to be in party. Look into your guest list for further details and adjust the amount based upon the kids, light eaters and people with other eating preferences like vegan and vegetarian.
These holidays are so important and close to all food lovers. This is a favorite time of the year for so many that love to go to parties, meet friends and talk over food and wine. The fear of ending up with leftovers should not put any hold on these cherishing and happy moments. We should be able to enjoy this time of year when we are even ok to put on a couple of holiday pounds.
Plan in advance, maximum the use of each ingredient, store food properly and large perishable items in the freezer, and give away leftovers as much as possible to guests, family, friends, and even local animals and neighbors in need!
Happy Holidays from us to you!!