Do you find yourself throwing out an overwhelming amount of turkey or stuffing after your Thanksgiving meal? Or maybe you keep the leftovers in your fridge for a couple days only to find them still in the fridge a week later, gone bad and end up throwing them out anyway? After years of holiday meals, you’d think that we would get better at calculating and figuring out how much food to make for the amount of people that attend our Thanksgiving dinner. Yet somehow, year after year, we always manage to make too much food (at my house, anyway!) and have way too many leftovers. Thankfully, there are a couple ways to solve that problem!

While it may not be the most fun technique for cutting back food waste, using a little math is one of the most accurate ways you can avoid throwing out leftovers. Next holiday, consider taking a few extra moments to count the number of people attending your meal, and prepare the food according to serving size on the recipe. You can even factor in if you know Aunt Betsy loves mashed potatoes but won’t touch the cranberry sauce by counting her as two servings of potatoes and no servings of cranberry sauce!

Another way to avoid food waste, is to set up your holiday meal buffet style. This encourages people to put only what they want on their plate, instead of having one person serve guests too much of each side.

But let’s be honest — who doesn’t love having Thanksgiving leftovers? In many ways, the leftovers are the best part! We just have to be sure that we’re being smart with our leftovers and recycle the food, instead of throwing it away. One way to do that is to use leftover turkey for other dishes your family will be sure to love.

Some good examples of turkey leftover recipes include: turkey noodle soup, turkey pot pie, turkey salad, turkey enchiladas, turkey casserole, or my personal favorite – turkey sandwiches. The bones from the turkey can be used to make homemade bone broth. You can use the leftover rolls for croutons and the stuffing for a delicious breakfast hash. You can even freeze your leftovers and create the exact same delicious meal in a month or two, giving you time to recover from your first Thanksgiving meal. 

The holidays are also a great time to consider starting a compost collection in your kitchen. Cooking large meals can create many fruit and vegetable scraps, as well as egg shells which can all be composted. 

At this point, you may have already eaten all of your leftovers from this Thanksgiving. However, with the Holidays coming up, you can still use all of these tricks for recycling, reusing, freezing, or composting. And of course, please keep this information in mind for next year’s Thanksgiving!