Approximately 40% of all food waste occurs in our homes. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, American household waste overall increases by over 25%, contributing an additional 1 million tons to landfills. This increase is shocking but not surprising if you consider how holiday celebrations are centered around spreads of festive dishes and décor, often in excess.
Here are some helpful tips to make taste, not waste this holiday season:
Between cooking shows and the internet, it’s easy to get inspired by appetizing recipes we see on screen. Before rushing out to purchase the ingredients needed, take stock of what ingredients you do have to avoid purchasing duplicative items - saving you money, and minimizing waste.
Get savvy about date labels.
Confusion over the meaning of date labels such as ‘sell by’, ‘best by’, ‘use by’, etc. is estimated to account for about 7% of all consumer waste. This is why Hellmann’s has been advocating for standardizing date labeling policy, and strongly supports the bipartisan , a bill designed to end consumer confusion around food date labeling and ensure Americans do not feel it is necessary to throw out safe, useable food. Not all people realize that ‘best by’ and ‘sell by’ dates are suggestions from manufacturers, and that many foods can be safely eaten after those dates if handled properly. However, it is important to look for signs of spoilage, such as change in color or off-odor, flavor, or texture.
Maximize the life of your ingredients.
- Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, causing produce stored nearby to spoil faster. Place fruits and vegetables in different bins, and preferably bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves.
- Notice veggies almost past their prime? Roast them at 425 degrees for 15-30 minutes or until tender and freeze to conveniently use throughout the month. Or enjoy right away with a and your protein of choice.
- Have some ripe bananas and stale bread? Use them in this , perfect to share with your holiday guests as a special treat.
Go ‘fridge hunting’.
Many of us are guilty of opening a fridge full of food and seeing “nothing” to eat. To help, Hellmann’s partnered with Chef José Andrés and launched , challenging us to open our fridges and create a meal based on what we already have. Check out these “” inspired by what you have on hand – a base + veggies + protein + a little help from Hellmann’s.
- Leftover Protein? Chop up grilled chicken, shrimp, or alternative protein and toss with a dressing made with a mixture of garden-fresh herbs and Hellmann's Mayonnaise. Serve over mixed greens like this .
- Leftover Vegetables? Steamed, grilled or served as a side dish at a party can become soup the next day. Prepare Knorr vegetable or chicken flavor according to package directions. Then, combine 3 to 4 cups prepared broth with leftover vegetables and puree for a quick soup.
- Leftover Grains? Extra pasta or rice can easily be added to stir-fries, soups, casseroles, or wraps for a change of pace during the holidays, such as these .
- Leftover Bread? Halve the loaf crosswise, spread it with a dollop of Hellmann's Mayonnaise and rub it with garlic. Wrap it in foil and bake until warm and toasty. Stale bread also makes great croutons, especially for ! For a better-for-you option, try this .
Befriend the freezer.
- Herbs often used over the holidays such as rosemary or thyme can keep for several months in the freezer. A great tip is to chop up herbs and freeze with water in ice-cube trays. The cubes can later be easily thrown into soups and casseroles.
- Freezing holiday meats like ham or turkey can do wonders. Remove bones and slice meat for easy defrosting. Leftover meat or poultry can be kept frozen for 2-6 months and used in “flexipes” like , or .
- If you happen to have wine left over after your holiday gathering, pour into ice-cube trays and freeze for later use in cooking.