Recently, some of our StyleBlueprint team was able to attend a small dinner party centered around Kroger’s initiative on lowering food waste. It was at Bailey Rae’s Nashville home, and the food, decor and conversation were incredible — and the suggestions really hit home as they were so practical.
That conversation led to today’s article, which takes a different spin on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers. Instead of reinventing your leftovers, what if you had less leftovers to start with? Today, Bailey Rae and some of the StyleBlueprint team provide suggestions on how to cook your main meal and sides and have less to pack up at the end.
Bailey Rae suggested these five options to lower food waste:
- Be mindful about how much you cook. For example, if a recipe calls for 1.5 pounds of Brussels sprouts, don’t cook two pounds just because the bag of Brussels is a two-pound bag. Use the half pound of raw vegetables for something else next week.
- Make a great stock. Save the scraps from all the different vegetables you are using in a big Ziploc bag. Keep your turkey bones as well. Then, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, when you are tired of leftovers and your guests have left, cook an amazing stock with the turkey carcass, water, herbs, vegetables … cook for 3-4 hours. Then, cool the stock and freeze. This will be better than any stock you buy, and you can use it for your upcoming soups, vegetables and other recipes that require stock.
- Make veggie hashes. Scour your fridge for leftover potatoes and vegetables, and cut into chunks or finely dice — just use them up. Make a hash in a skillet, and add an egg and some toast for a delicious breakfast.
- Pickle your vegetables. You can basically pickle any raw vegetable, and then it has 6-8 weeks shelf life in the refrigerator. You don’t really need a recipe, but typically use a 50/50 water/vinegar ratio. You can use any vinegar … red wine vinegar, apple cider or white distilled for mixed veggies. These make a great gift for the holidays as well. Consider adding any spices that you want, like garlic, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes and herbs.
- Make croutons with leftover bread. Bread is something that you often buy at the store, and thus you can easily end up with too much. Consider making homemade croutons as they are so easy. Cook them with some olive oil over low heat in a skillet. Bailey Rae likes to add Italian seasoning for extra flavor. They’ll keep for a few weeks in an airtight container, and you can refresh them in the skillet if they get a little soft. This works for any type of bread. Use the croutons on salads and warm soups.
Other tips from the StyleBlueprint team:
Alex Hendrickson — “On a day like Thanksgiving, when there are so many dishes (namely sides), folks don’t typically take full servings (because they want a bite of everything). So if a recipe serves four, it will be enough for 6-8. I always want to make more food than necessary, but my sister (and the chef in the family) always reminds us of how many leftovers we will have.”
Linda Reeve — “At my farm, I have a large soapstone sink and keep an old-fashioned enamel bucket with a lid on it at all times. ALL vegetable waste, plate and pan scrapings, wilted flowers, leftover pancakes AND MORE go in, and it is given to my flock of chickens. They love every bit of it and come running when they see a white bucket in my hands.”
Liza Graves — “I was just reading an article about how natural turkeys aren’t 25-30 pounds and questioning why we buy these enormous birds just to replicate the Norman Rockwell vision many of us have for our Thanksgiving table. There is a trend, especially among millennials, to buy smaller turkeys and thus have a more natural bird and less waste. Makes perfect sense to me (as someone who typically has waaaaay too much meat left over each year!).”
Megan Casey — “Have a side of roasted carrots for the dinner, use the carrot greens to sub in for basil in a pesto recipe the next day. You can use any pesto recipe, just blanch and cool the greens before to soften them. Also, you could cook a duck instead of a turkey. It’s smaller so there are less leftovers!”
Here’s to a happy Thanksgiving — with fewer leftovers!