The holidays are a time to gather around the table to share a delicious meal with loved ones. Although this year the gatherings will be smaller, more than enough food will likely get prepared and be tossed out. It’s no surprise given that 40% of the food produced in the United States ends up wasted and 43% of that waste comes from households (NRDC). But not all hope is lost! With some planning, you can significantly cut back on what you throw away, which not only helps the environment but also saves you money. Check out Eurest Registered Dietitian Michelle Sadlowski’s top tips for reducing food waste at home this holiday season.

Tip #1: Create a Menu

First, start by creating a menu, then you can look for recipes and write a shopping list of what you need to buy. Your menu doesn’t need to be elaborate. Consider how many guests you are expecting and that will help guide how much of each dish to make. If you are still unsure, check out NRDC’s “guest-imator” tool to help you create a menu based on the amount of people at your table.

Tip #2: Cook Root to Stem

Root to stem means you are eating all parts of the fruit or vegetable including those that we typically toss away but are perfectly edible and nutritious. Here are some root to stem ideas you can include on your holiday table:

  • Trim the tough outer layer off broccoli stems and roast the tender inner stalk along with the florets
  • Carrot tops can be used in your go-to pesto recipe
  • Sauté beet greens with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and add to roasted beets
  • Save that parmesan rind and use it to enhance the flavor of your favorite holiday soup
  • Fresh herbs are full of flavor. Finely chop the non-woody stems up and add to the dish you’re preparing

Tip #3: Compost

These days you may be cooking more at home than ever before. Those food scraps (potato skins, banana peels, and citrus rinds) can be composted and used in your garden or a local community garden to nourish the soil rather than go to landfill where it will produce greenhouse gases. You can compost at home all year round and now is a great time to start. It may seem daunting if composting is new to you, so check out the basics to learn how to get started.

Looking for a low food waste recipe that would make a delicious post-holiday breakfast for you and your family? Check out this Cauliflower Parsnip Hash with Chimichurri recipe. It uses all parts of the cauliflower including the stem.

Hungry for more? Mia Zavalij from Eatable joined us on the Eurest Feed with Our RDs November podcast episode to share a few more ways you can reduce food waste at home this holiday season.

Michelle Sadlowski, MS, RD, CSSD

Michelle Sadlowski is the Eastern Division Wellness Director. She has her Master’s in Exercise Science and has been a Registered Dietitian for over 15 years, with Compass for almost 10 of them. Michelle is also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics and is an avid runner. In her free time, Michelle loves hiking, travelling and trying out new recipes at home.