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Stop Food Waste: What to Do with Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving dinner that will have leftoversThanksgiving is just around the corner and with it comes hours or days of preparation and planning, but it’s all worth it when everyone comes together and the meal goes off without a hitch. But what do you do with all the Thanksgiving leftovers?

We’re not talking about a few servings of mashed potatoes or turkey that can be enjoyed over a few days, we’re talking about the pounds of extra food that often come with serving a very large gathering or even a community meal. To help you minimize your food waste and make cleanup a snap, we’re sharing some tips and ideas.

Know How Much to Prepare

If you know how many people are coming to Thanksgiving dinner, you can make sure you have the perfect amount of food for your guests:

  • Turkey: 1.25 pounds per person
  • Dinner rolls: 1.5 per person
  • Starchy sides (potatoes or stuffing): .5 lb per person
  • Vegetable sides: .25 lb per person
  • Dessert: 1-2 slices per person

While these are amounts are approximate, they can act as a good guide to making sure you don’t have too much. Thus, if you are planning a meal for 30 guests, you would need: 

  • Around 38 pounds of turkey
  • 45 dinner rolls
  • 15 pounds of potatoes or stuffing (or around 8 pounds each)
  • Around 8 pounds of vegetables
  • 5-6 desserts

Be sure to shop your pantry and freezer when planning your menu so you don’t overbuy ingredients or you can choose sides based on ingredients you already have on hand.

Minimizing Food Waste During Preparation

Meal prep creates a very large quantity of waste, especially when you’re preparing a large, multi-course meal. Fortunately you can reduce some of the trash you create, such as mashing potatoes with the skins on or creating a homemade stock using vegetable peels and scraps. If this all seems a bit overwhelming while you’re trying to create a Thanksgiving feast, consider using your natural cooking scraps to enrich your garden by using it for compost. 

Not everything can be added to the compost, but a lot can:

  • Eggshells
  • Potato peels
  • Carrot tops
  • Onion skins
  • Banana peels

Create To-Go Boxes for Guests

After the meal, if you find you have way too much to fit in your refrigerator or you fixed a community meal, you may end up trashing all of the Thanksgiving leftovers. If you’re concerned you’ll have too much, stop by a restaurant supply store and pick up some foam or paperboard to-go boxes or inexpensive food storage containers. As you clean up, create an assembly line of to-go boxed meals that guests can take with them to keep the food out of the trash. 

Rent a Dumpster for the Day

Having guests for several days and preparing a giant meal or cooking a community meal or hosting an event leads to trash no matter how much you try to avoid waste. To keep your kitchen trash or your home’s trash cans from continually overflowing, rent a dumpster for a few days to get you through preparation and cleanup. It will keep your home or community kitchen cleaner, save you time, and take food waste straight to the landfill rather than sitting in your trash to attract pests and vermin. 

Schedule Dumpster Rental for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Ensure smoother operations of your Thanksgiving meal with dumpster rentals from Wall Recycling. We have 13 locations throughout North Carolina, including in Raleigh, Durham, and Wilmington. To learn more, reach out to us today at (919) 582-7777 or fill out the form below to get started.