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ReGrained’s Guide to a Waste-Free Thanksgiving (and Friendsgiving too!)

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, a time when most of us deliberately make more food than it is humanly possible to eat. The potential for food waste is great, and defending against this risk should be a top priority — right up there with not overcooking the turkey. That’s why ReGrained’s here with some quick tips for a waste-free feast (save us a seat?):

1) Guest-imate before you shop

The key to reducing waste at home is to buy the right amount of food in the first place. Shopping for Thanksgiving is particularly daunting, with a variety of dishes to plan for, the turkey to (literally) weigh, and the need to factor in your uncle’s tendency to devour three helpings.

Have no fear: we found a great tool to help you make a game plan. With the Guestimator (courtesy of the NRDC), you describe the appetite sizes (small/medium/large) of your guests, and just like that, it calculates a Thanksgiving menu for you. You can even specify how many leftover meals you want. Give it a try and maybe you’ll use it year round — guestimating is good practice for any dinner party.

2) Stock up on reusable to-go containers

Everyone loves leftovers, and it’s the spirit of Thanksgiving to share the surplus with your family, friends, and neighbors. Make it easy to send your guests home with some food by ordering some reusable to-go containers. Bask in their gratitude.

As one option, these are reusable, microwave-safe, recyclable, and only $.50 a pop.

3) Get creative with upcycling your leftovers

Turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce are classic, and they’re great, but try to branch out a little this year. Add cranberry sauce to hot cereal for a sweet kick. Scramble your stuffing with your eggs. Put your leftover gravy to work in a french fry poutine. And definitely make stock out of your turkey bones and carcass (we have the steps for bird broth here).

For a conversation starter that won’t ruffle any feathers, ask your relatives for some of the unusual ways they like to eat their Thanksgiving leftovers, and share with us in the comments. We’ll go first: we have an aunt who eats sweet potato casserole with milk for breakfast.

Really — thanks for reading.

Reducing waste at home makes a bigger impact than you might realize, because 40% of food waste is created at home. Even if you don’t use these exact ideas, we hope this short list provides some inspiration. With just a little bit of thought, intention, and creativity, you can find many ways to show your appreciation for your food, by not wasting it.

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