Written by Jacob Terranova
If you’re like me, you look forward to a week of heating up Thanksgiving leftovers. But the unfortunate reality is that most Americans end up throwing their leftovers out.
In fact, Americans will waste about $277 million worth of food during Thanksgiving. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that about 200 million pounds of turkey alone will be thrown out during Thanksgiving.
It’s an alarming amount of wasted food. Especially considering, according to the NRDC, “one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table.”
So, what can we do? Here are some strategies your funeral home can use to put those leftovers to good use. Make sure to share these tips with families in your community!
How to Help Put Thanksgiving Leftovers to Good Use
Start with your family and staff. Invite them to a post-Thanksgiving potluck and encourage everyone to share their holiday leftovers. In addition to a potluck, you can turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into a creative competition — and even invite the community to join in! See who can come up with the most creative Thanksgiving leftover dishes. You can encourage donations, and the winner of the competition can gift the proceeds to a charity of their choice.
Here are some creative Thanksgiving leftover recipes to get you inspired:
- Mashed potato pizza
- Turkey pot pie soup
- Leftover stuffing waffles with gravy
- Pumpkin pie milkshake
- Thanksgiving leftovers Stromboli
If you have leftover nonperishables, donating them is an easy way to help make a difference. Donating also helps avoid food waste. Here are some organizations you can turn to:
- Your community’s local food pantry is a great place to start. To find a food pantry near you, visit FoodPantries.org.
- Contact Feeding America to find even more ways you can donate. Feeding America “distributes 4 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States and leads the nation to engage in the fight against hunger.”
- For excess produce and organic ingredients, check out AmpleHarvest.org. They are a nonprofit organization that specializes in helping “42 million home and community gardeners end food waste and hunger by educating and enabling them to donate their excess garden produce to one of 8,129 nearby food pantries across America.”
- You also can consider partnering with local restaurants to create a food drive/community dinner to help raise awareness about hunger in America.
Strategies to Reduce Thanksgiving Food Waste Next Year
It’s also not too early to start thinking about next year. Here are some ways you can help educate your community to help reduce food waste next Thanksgiving.
- Plan your portions appropriately. If you plan on having 15 people over for a Thanksgiving dinner, all 15 people don’t have to bring a full dish. Encourage people to plan ahead or bring different ingredients to help make the meal.
- Also, it’s ok to have leftovers. Just make sure you have a plan for them. Outline creative ways to use leftover ingredients to make the most of them.
- Don’t forget about your freezer. A lot of Thanksgiving leftovers can be frozen to extend their freshness. Just thaw the leftovers at a later date and enjoy.
For more tips on meal planning and avoiding food waste, check out this article from Save The Food.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving leftover traditions? Share with us in the comments below!
Looking for other ways your funeral home can get involved in the community? Download our free guide on community involvement for year-round ideas for getting involved!