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Transportation & Public Works - News

Posted on: December 12, 2023

Zero Waste Holidays: Tips to Reducing Food Waste

NF_ZW Food Waste

The holidays are a time of gathering with friends and family to share holiday traditions and memories, and food is often the highlight of many of our holiday gatherings. Unfortunately, the joy of eating is usually followed by loads of leftovers landing in the garbage bin and ultimately our landfills. The good news is that most food waste can be avoided with just a few simple actions.

Planning is Key

The easiest way to reduce food waste during the holidays is to know your guest list and plan a reasonable menu to avoid excess. Once you know how much food is needed, take time to go through your cupboards and take stock of the items you already have on hand.  Now you are ready to create a detailed shopping list and stick to it! Following a shopping list will help prevent you from getting distracted by holiday displays appealing sales throughout the store, sometimes causing excessive purchases that may not be needed and may not actually be eaten.

When shopping for ingredients, select unpackaged items whenever possible and bring your own containers and bags to further reduce waste.

Cook Root to Stem

Using the entire fruit or vegetable, including the less commonly eaten root and stem, when preparing your holiday meals is a great way to reduce food waste and stretch your budget. Here are a few ways you can incorporate lesser-used produce parts in your holiday dinner.

  • Add celery greens or carrot tops to pesto and toss atop pasta.
  • Roast squash seeds with olive oil and salt for a yummy appetizer.
  • Throw bitter beet greens into a salad with other lettuce and a sweet dressing.
  • Use leftover stems, peels, and cheese rinds as the base for a soup stock.

Avoid Over Serving

Another food waste solution is portion control. Rather than over filling everyone’s plate, let your guests serve themselves. By serving buffet style or by putting everything on the table to eat family style your guests can choose how much or how little they want.  Guests can always come back for seconds.

Plan for Leftovers

Having a plan for leftovers is another way to ensure that the food prepared is eaten. After all, half the goodness of holiday food is the delicious leftovers the next day or repurposing them into something new. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your holiday leftovers.

  • Encourage friends and family to take leftovers home to enjoy.
  • Properly store leftovers in containers to place in the refrigerator so they are ready to re-heat and enjoy the next day.
  • Repurpose leftovers by creating delicious soups, sandwiches, or salads.
  • Freezing is an excellent way to save leftover food for later use, such as gravy, soups, or sauces.


Unused kitchen food scraps and uneaten food items should be composted into fertilizer. If you don’t compost at home, place your food scraps in your green waste bin to be composted at a facility rather than placing them in the garbage bin where they will end up in a landfill.

The key is to plan ahead and get creative to prevent food waste from occurring. Make preventing food waste your personal act of sustainability.

Visit for more ways to achieve a Zero Waste Holiday.

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