Garden Lifestyle

7 Ways to Prevent Thanksgiving Food Waste

We’re about the enter that time of year when “but it’s the holidays” is the go-to excuse for overindulging in those once-a-year favorite foods.

Save the seeds from winter squashes to roast, plant or feed to the squirrels. The outer skin can be buried in the vegetable garden to enrich the soil.
Photo/Illustration: John Pendleton

I’ve been working on ways to prevent food waste in my kitchen for many years. I’ve changed my grocery shopping habits and made better food choices. I’m always looking for creative ways to make sure nothing goes to waste. 

Thanksgiving and other holidays that revolve around food present opportunities to test my food waste resourcefulness. Even though it’s a busy time with shopping, preparing and placing extra settings at the table, there are 7 easy ways to reuse foods that typically go to waste:

  1. Save the seeds after removing them from winter squashes during the prep phase. The seeds can be used several ways: place outside as a treat for the squirrels; wash, dry thoroughly and save to plant in the vegetable garden next season; wash, sprinkle with kosher salt and roast in the oven until toasty for a delicious and nutritious snack, like sunflower seeds.
  2. Save the greens from carrots to make a light pesto after Thanksgiving. Remove the frilly greens from their stems, blanch and whirl together with olive oil, nuts and garlic. Use beet greens to add to fresh salads.
  3. Save the peels from potatoes, ends from celery and carrots, and other vegetable discards while preparing favorite recipes instead of throwing them away. Place them in a plastic bag and refrigerate. When all the hubbub has quieted down, use the peelings to make a flavorful vegetable stock.
  4. Roast the peels from potatoes to turn them into crisps. Scrub organic potatoes before peeling when making mashed potatoes and save the peels for up to 4 days. Then roast those potato skins into a crispy snack by tossing them with a little olive oil, placing them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, sprinkling with salt and roasting them in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until crispy brown. Toss a couple of times while roasting.
  5. Save the skins from sweet potatoes and other roasted vegetables to improve the soil in the garden. Peels can be turned into compost or buried in the garden to enrich the soil.
  6. Use the stalks from broccoli with the tender florets. Simply peel off the outer woody layer and slice into rounds. Stems can also be made into a bright green pesto.
  7. Dry the zest of fruits like oranges, lemons and limes to use as flavorings for other dishes. Orange zest is perfect mixed in cranberry sauce.

Even if you use just a few of these suggestions, you’ll notice less waste in the kitchen. Do you have any ideas to add to my list?

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