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By Vicky Payeur

The holiday season is often synonymous with food waste. Between the various family meals, extended absences from home and huge portions on the plates, there is a lot to worry about when it comes time to look at the contents of the garbage. This year, although there will be fewer celebrations and fewer guests, we will still eat three meals a day. That’s just as many opportunities to consume better!

Since I have become aware of all the work that goes into getting the food that is sold at the grocery store, I make sure that I enjoy the food that I have. My motivation is to respect all the people who grew it, transported it, processed it and put it on the shelves. Not to mention the resources that were used! This is my way of thanking them.
Over the years, I’ve learned to eat less, but better, so that I can get the most out of the products I buy and minimize food waste. Today, I’m sharing my best tips to inspire you this holiday season!

Reducing, it starts at home

Before I leave my apartment for a few days, I always check the contents of my refrigerator. Any food that might go bad while I’m away is placed in containers in the freezer. It’s as simple as cutting your celery into sticks to put in a future spaghetti sauce.

Also, when the situation is right, I bring a few ingredients from my fridge. Fresh veggies and cheeses are perfect for making an appetizer platter for celebrations. Leftover fruit juices, meanwhile, are perfect for punches or sangrias. Better to bring them than to waste them!

Two small plates are better than one!

I won’t hide it: I have a small appetite! Often, the plates that are served to me at dinner parties are too big for me. So I always make sure to tell the person serving me to prepare a smaller plate, or I risk getting a refill. It’s that simple! This way, you eat the portion that fits your appetite and you don’t risk throwing a portion of delicious holiday food in the garbage.

Offer buffet leftovers as a gift

The holiday season is also a time to help those in need and give back to the community. In every city there are shelters, community fairs or organizations that help people in need and take all kinds of donations, like food! Instead of wasting food, give it to someone else. You’ll be bringing them a little warmth this Christmas!

Freeze leftovers

I tend to plan for more portions when I prepare a meal, especially during the holidays when there is an abundance of food! To avoid eating the same leftovers for an entire week, I freeze a good portion. This way, I can enjoy the flavours of the holidays throughout the month of January, without wasting! Having a supply of comfort food to start the long winter months makes me feel good.

Home cooked meals to go

In the last few years, I have become accustomed to carrying clean containers in my bag. I often use them to take home my leftover plate from the restaurant, a piece of cake after dinner or a pastry from the bakery. In addition to reducing the use of single-use plastic, this habit reduces food waste.

At Christmas dinners, I suggest bringing back leftover portions when I realize my host is planning to throw them away. Leftover mashed potatoes, raw vegetables, cooked vegetables or a piece of dessert are thus saved from the landfill! Between you and me, the people who cooked the meal are always happy that their food will be eaten rather than thrown away.

This idea does not apply to every setting or household, as it is unconventional to do so. However, I’m throwing the idea out there! Perhaps a discussion about food waste over dinner will help you get a handle on it for the next time.

Try it, one meal at a time!

Remember, the holidays are about enjoying, having fun and relaxing. If you want to, do the best you can to avoid being wasteful. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you can’t force perfection on yourself. Go at your own pace and according to your reality, and you can be rewarded for it. Happy Holidays!