How to Reduce Food Waste During the Holidays

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Author: Shannon Coulter-Low

Posted: December 20, 2016

Categories: GoodFoodBites / News from Sustain Ontario

During the holiday season, Canadians send up to 45% more waste to landfill. Much of this is gift wrapping, packaging and disposable cutlery, but it’s also food. Although this period so often associated with excess, we can still stay true to holiday traditions while reducing our waste. Here are some tips to avoid creating food waste during this season’s various holiday feasts and festivities.


Source: U.S.D.A

  • Plan for dessert: Food waste often occurs because we worry about running out of food. When planning and preparing meals, remember that each side dish will add up to quite a large portion. Guests should be able to eat the main meal and still have room to enjoy dessert.
  • Purchase imperfect food: The food we see in stores has already gone through a strict culling process in order to meet the visual demands of consumers. Most customers will avoid asymmetrical or slightly discoloured produce in stores, so these have a higher chance of going to waste at the end of the day. But looks are not usually a measure of quality, and a slight bump or bruise won’t matter if it is going to be peeled, mashed or otherwise processed.
  • Donate leftover ingredients: If you think you have over-purchased for your meal, think about donating to a local food bank. Items most in-need at food banks are grains, protein, fruits and vegetables, dietary foods and baby foods.
  • Let guests serve themselves: Some people eat less than others, so try setting the meal up buffet style or bring all the serving dishes to the table so guests can serve themselves. 
  • Ask guests to bring reusable containers: If you think you will have many leftovers, ask your friends and/or family to take home excess food. This will divvy up the food so that you aren’t left with more than you can eat. 
  • Freeze leftovers right away: If you find yourself with excessive leftovers, freeze what you don’t think you can eat right away to eat or repurpose later. Remember to label it and keep it visible so it will not get lost in your freezer.
  • Compost: As a last resort, save your food waste from landfill by composting it at home or putting it in your municipal organic waste bin for collection.