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Planning for a Small Thanksgiving

Stop Food Waste Blog

Planning for a Small Thanksgiving

Nov 19, 2020
Smaller portion Turkey

Stop Food Waste Blog

Wanting to have all the same comforting dishes for Thanksgiving but unsure how to make a turkey for only 4 people? Here are some tips to help enjoy the holiday without creating excess waste.

Now, more than ever, we need to plan ahead for this Thursday's Thanksgiving feast. For many of us, this year will look quite different than in the past. If you've gotten used to making a turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing for 12 people, it's pretty unlikely that you'll be working from the same measurements as years past. Below are some simple tips to help you reduce the possibilty of wasting food this Thursday.

The first thing you can do is actually reduce the amount of food you're working with overall. Consider the recipes you've used in the past and, if it's simple enough, just cut them back (use 4 potatoes instead of 14, for example). If you don't have a clear idea of how to cut those portions down, try using the SaveTheFood Guestimator to get a more accurate estimate of portions. Our food waste prevention partner Ends and Stems has produced short videos on how to figure out portions and how much to buy and alternate meal options for 2020. You can also refer to this New York Times article for specific tips to scale down the most common Thanksgiving dishes. This way, you'll end up with a more manageable amount of leftovers, if any.

Next, if you can't buy smaller packages of ingredients (often times, things like cranberries, celery, bread, and green beans come pre-packaged), consider putting aside what you need for your Thanksgiving dishes and preserve the rest. Many of these items can simply be frozen as they are. Other items, such as green beans, can be quickly blanched in salt water, drained, then frozen. Remember to chop up or break items into manageable portions so you can defrost only what you need in the future. This step of saving remaining ingredients for future dishes may even make prepping for your Thanksgiving dishes easier.

Speaking of prep, if you know that you're going to have leftovers (it's really hard to find a turkey under 10 lbs.), make sure that you're ready with a plan for some dishes to use them up. I'm going to make a couple of extra pie crusts and will throw them in the freezer for a turkey pot pie next week, but you can also consider using up extra mashed potatoes with our Turkey Shepherd's Pie recipe. One of my favorite winter dishes also includes the use of the turkey bones to make a broth for a Filipino (my dad's) take on turkey soup. This means that I have some elbow macaroni, celery, onion, milk, and a can of quail eggs, ready in the fridge/pantry for the weekend. If quail eggs aren't your thing, take a look at our more traditional turkey soup recipe.

Lastly, if Friday comes and you're tired, overwhelmed, and just don't know what to do with all that leftover stuffing, a quick online search can inspire you with some fun and innovative recipes. Our partner, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, has a great list of recipes that includes a mouthwatering "stuffing waffle".

There's no doubt that this Thanksgiving will be different than years past, but hopefully we can take this time to hone our skills and learn how to make the most of what we have.