Hello 👋😁 and welcome to crazy-Thanksgiving-prep-for-so-many-hours-maybe-even-days week! Yay! Oh, ugh…
It can be a pretty hectic week, but it’s not suppose to be. On top of keeping up with your daily life, it can seem very stressful trying to get the Thanksgiving Meal just perfect, plus cleaning and decorating the house for guests. It’s meant to be a time to enjoy with family and friends, making memories! ❤️❤️❤️
Holidays also happen to be a time where convenience gets priority over the expense of the environment and sustainability of our natural resources. With all of this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 10 ways to waste less around the holidays and actually enjoy yourself. 🙌🥰 Lets get started:
- Plan Ahead & Ask for Help! Take an inventory of what you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Then make a complete list of what dishes you want and the ingredients you need, but also consider meals surrounding the big Feast, like breakfast, snacks, and the possibilities of leftovers-turned-into-fabulous-dishes. Also something to consider: you don’t have to make the entire meal! What?!?! You really don’t! This is a family event, so get the family involved. Let other people shine with their awesome side dish of mashed potatoes and gravy, or delegate chores like cleaning up and decorating. You can enjoy Thanksgiving, too! Planning ahead can save you valuable time, decrease the amount of freaking-out moments, as well as eliminate some food waste and trash by not buying what you don’t need in the first place.
- Buy Local & Bulk: Shopping at the local farmers market or small businesses, especially meat and produce, will help support your local economy. So much food found in our grocery store chains travel long distances, even internationally, and by shopping locally you can get the freshest food and great flavors. I like to get my turkey from a local farmer that practices humane living conditions for the birds and eco-friendly farming. They are fed organic and non-GMO feed, so the turkey we’re eating is not only healthier but lived a great life. This farmer shares videos of the turkeys on their Facebook page. 🦃💗 There are also many stores switching to bulk item areas, like spices and herbs. I like getting only enough of the spice that I need, which means I also save money! Yay! Saving money here means you can get that specialty coffee or new earrings and giving yourself some much needed peace and quiet.
- Use What You Already Have: What ingredients do you already have in your pantry or fridge? Can you use those instead of something else that you might not even use later in your cooking? I like to consider which ingredients I can swap with, simply because I know I won’t use up all of that herb or spice or whatever it happens to be. Again, save yourself some money, shelf space, and throwing away trash or food waste.
- Meal Prep: Carving out some time before the big Feast building day to prep some meals will make the overall experience of Thanksgiving much happier. Cut some vegetables; bake the pies; chop the bread for stuffing. When you’re prepping, you’ll save in the clean up process the day of Thanksgiving (although, remember to delegate!) but you’ll also be able to find out earlier if you need more of a certain ingredient. If you don’t, then you won’t have food waste and extra trash. Win!
- Stop, Breathe, Enjoy: Seriously! Take a break, take a breath, and enjoy a mug of coffee, tea, cocoa, or apple cider! Find somewhere quiet to recharge. Put your feet up, because who wants to be in pain, unhappy, tired, exhausted, and crazy when the rest of the family is enjoying the holiday?
- Reusable & Multi-purpose: Bring your reusable shopping bags and cloth produce bags to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags. Plastic does not decompose, but breaks down into microplastics which end up in our environment. Gross! Recycle where and what you can, which includes aluminum foil and other containers, but trying to use reusable and multipurpose items first is actually a preferred eco-friendly practice.
- Decorate with Natural Elements: Remember when I said to delegate? Well, if you have family over, and perhaps they are underfoot while you would like to meal prep or spend a moment to yourself, send them outside to collect natural elements like pine cones and leaves to decorate for Thanksgiving. Most of these items out of nature can be frozen or heated to kill any bugs, because you don’t want them crawling around your dinner table. Some farmer market stands are selling pumpkins at a discount which would look really nice as centerpieces inside glass vases or paired with candles. This is a chance to get creative! Afterward, the items can be composted or taken back outside. No fuss! No muss! Whatever that means, but at least you’re saving money and not making trash!
- Clean-Up as You Go: Delegate! If you are doing all the cooking, someone else can be doing all the cleaning. Or maybe you don’t want to cook, so you can just do the clean up. Either way, washing is better than tossing disposables away. So much trash is accumulated in terms of paper plates, plastic cups and utensils, and if you don’t want to wash so many dishes, compostable plates, cups, and utensils are available! Woohoo! Another idea is to invite your guests to bring their own dishes, containers for leftovers and cloth napkins, too!
- Leftovers: Here you go! Time to get creative and pretend that you’re on the Food Network doing one of those competition style shows. There are so many bloggers that took that challenge, so there are numerous recipes on the web for “what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers”! Also, do you need disposable containers and giant zip locking plastic bags: Nope. Ask guests to bring containers with them or use multipurpose containers. Glass is a better option than plastic because you can heat up the food in the oven or microwave safer.
- Compost/Worm Farm/ Tortoises: Produce scraps, stems and ends can also be used to make more stock or broth for use in other meals after main thanksgiving feast. We love making turkey soup afterwards, so having extra broth is perfect. Saving carrot greens, celery greens, beet greens, and others means that you can use them to dress up salads, use them in soups, or crisp them up in the oven. So delicious! Some extra bits and leftover produce can also be composted, put into your worm farm, or fed to your spoiled chickens or tortoises! What? You don’t have either of those? Well, with a little extra searching on your smartphone, you might be able to find another place for your leftover produce scraps. Some cities and neighborhoods have communal compost areas, and some farmers markets will take the extra stuff for their composting needs. Also, if you have a big enough yard, chickens and/or tortoises are great to have around for peaceful observations and feeding your veggie scraps to throughout the year. They’re pretty entertaining, too. Watch my Instagram feed and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I’m trying to do more of these practices, and this week is the WEEK! To walk the gobble walk after doing the gobbling talk! I’m going to post more tips and info on my Instagram feed @mugglezoologist so follow me there for more eco-friendly fun this holiday season!
Try one or more of these tips this holiday season and let me know how it goes. But don’t feel pressured to try all of them. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone! 😘🦃😁🙌