5 Things to do with Thanksgiving Leftovers

Tara Kuczykowski of Deal Seeking Mom shares her pumpkin pie recipe.
November 8, 2021
by Ash Slupski

Planning a family gathering during a pandemic is hard enough. The last thing we need to worry about is all the Thanksgiving leftovers. But, unfortunately, food waste during the holidays can be a big problem.

Each year, 108 billion pounds of food goes to waste in the United States. That’s nearly 40% of all food.

Food waste happens in every part of the food system. But individuals are the most significant source of food waste. Unfortunately, that food waste has a big impact on us and our environment.

Luckily, there’s a lot we can do to reduce food waste at home, especially during the holidays.

  • Rethink your shopping list. If you’re not hosting guests this year, buy what you need to feed your family and match their preferences. For example, if they hate cranberry sauce – skip it. They like ice cream more than pumpkin pie – make a swap. Your Thanksgiving dinner will still be perfect without those “traditional” foods. And you can avoid overbuying and overspending by shopping for what you want to eat.
  • Don’t forget the doggy bags. Ask guests to bring reusable containers to pack up leftovers. Instead of loading them up with a little bit of everything, ask them what they enjoyed eating. That way, you can avoid those leftovers reaching someone else’s trash can.
  • Get experimental. Leftovers reheated in the microwave are great. But after a few days, that can get dull. So mix it up with one of these recipes that make the most of your leftovers.
  • Compost. You can compost many ingredients for your Thanksgiving meal. Fruits, vegetables, eggshells, and coffee grounds make great compost. You can compost safely in your backyard or an indoor compost bin. Then use your compost in your garden or donate it to a community garden at a food bank.
  • Donate unopened ingredients. After the holidays, food banks see a sharp decline in food donations. So donate your unopened canned and shelf-stable ingredients to your local food bank. But don’t drop your canned pumpkin at their door. Instead, confirm your food bank accepts food donations and read their food donation guidelines. And, please, leave your leftover turkey and cooked dishes at home.