In This Section

Reduce Waste in the Kitchen

Chances are, you’re planning a cooking frenzy this holiday season, big or small. After all, what is Thanksgiving without a turkey feast and pumpkin pie? Christmas wouldn’t be the same without cookies and fudge and baked ham! But sometimes in all the craziness, we get a little nuts. Excess leftovers and piles of garbage on the curb. “This year will be different!” we say. But this year… we’re here to help you make a change for the better. We’ve compiled a list of ways to reduce waste during your holiday cooking.

At the Store

1. Stick to Your Plan. We’ve all been there, walking down the aisles of the grocery store (hungry) and before we know it our cart is full of junk that’s not on our shopping list. Don’t do that! Holiday meals generally produce a lot of leftovers and until you know what leftovers you’ll have it’s silly to go crazy at the store with things you may or may not be able to eat before they spoil.

2. Don’t Get Sucked Into Bulk. Not only is it important to stick to buying the ingredients on your shopping list, it’s important to buy only the exact amount of those ingredients you need. It’s easy to rationalize buying food in bulk to save money, but if you’re throwing the extras away there’s no real benefit.

3. Portion Control. It’s incredibly tempting to cook and serve way too much food, especially if you’re planning for a large crowd. Don’t get carried away. If you aren’t used to cooking for large groups or you aren’t sure how much you should cook for your group, do a little research beforehand and use it when crafting your shopping list. Not only will this prevent you from eating leftovers for eons, you won’t have to spend as much time in the kitchen!

4. Pretty Produce is for the Birds. It’s amazing how much “reject” produce stores throw out because consumers are turned off by unusual shapes or sizes. When you’re shopping, intentionally look for odd looking fruits and veggies. Your food will taste just as delicious and you’ll feel pretty great about your good deed.

At Home

1. Scope Out the Fridge. Check out what food you already have in the fridge. Before you crazy at the grocery store, make sure you don’t already have the ingredients on your shopping list. Additionally, check out what ingredients you have that aren’t on your list. If expiration dates are looming, consider swapping dishes to use food you already have. Not only will you avoid throwing out spoiled food, you’ll save money on your grocery bill.

2. Make a Meal Plan. If your holiday recipes call for ingredients that can’t be purchased in the exact amount needed, make a meal plan to use up leftover ingredients before they spoil. This is even better if you can incorporate holiday leftovers!

3. Eat leftovers! That’s the best part of holiday meals, right? If you aren’t a huge leftover fan, make sure your guests take some home. Many dinner guests enjoy taking leftovers home but feel rude specifically asking for leftovers. Share the leftover love!

4. Use Everything. We tend to peel and seed and trim our produce before we cook with it. Don’t do that! Use every part of your produce to eliminate unnecessary food waste.

5. Upcycle Leftovers. Use leftover food as ingredients in new recipes. Make stock out of leftover veggies. Use fruit juices to spice up new dishes. The possibilities are truly endless!

6. Don’t Throw It Away. If you absolutely can’t bring yourself to use the peel, seeds, trimmed parts of your produce, or leftovers, don’t throw them away! Try donating them to a local farm or ranch to feed livestock or keep your scraps and add them to your compost.

At the Table

1. Seconds and Thirds? Go for it! Contrary to popular belief, going back for seconds and thirds is a great thing! Why’s that? It means you were conscious of the amount of food you piled on your plate in the first place. Often times our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and we load anything and everything on our plate. Then when we remember the actual size of our stomachs, we end up scraping all of that leftover food into the garbage. This holiday, take smaller portions and remind yourself you can always go back for seconds… and thirds!

2. Share the Love. You may feel preachy telling your friends and family about your new vow to reduce waste and be more conscious of your cooking and eating habits in the process, but the fact of the matter is recycling, upcycling, and waste reduction are growing trends! There’s a good possibility that your friends and family are looking for a way to join in eco-friendly efforts, they’re just not sure how. So be the change you want to see in the world and show ‘em how it’s done!


This holiday season WILL be different! If you make a plan and consciously think things through, this holiday you can reduce waste in the kitchen and feel good in the process! Not to mention… you might even save a little money.

If you’re interested in learning more about recycling in Sioux Falls, contact Novak Sanitary or call 605.338.7126 today.