5 ways to reduce food waste over the holidays

5 ways to reduce food waste over the holidays

5 ways to reduce food waste over the holidays


Graphic photo that says 5 ways to reduce food waste over the holidays

While holiday celebrations may look different this year, they don't have to be without thoughtful preparation and planning to get the most bang for your buck and reduce waste.

A recent study found that organics comprise 27% of Guam's waste stream. Out of that 27%, over 90% of it is food waste.

When food is wasted due to spoilage or overpreparing, the natural resources and human resources that went into creating and transporting the uneaten food are also wasted. Food that goes into the landfill then decomposes without access to oxygen and turns into methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

So whether you’re having a small get-together with your household or treating yourself to a night of comfort food, here are five ways you can make room for sustainability as you enjoy the holidays and afterward.

1. Take inventory of what you have

Before deciding what delectable dishes you’ll make this holiday, open your pantry and rummage through your fridge. Maybe there's some half-used bags of chocolate chips and walnuts that could be made into cookies for dessert or a pack of seaweed sheets that could be used for sushi. Look through your kitchen and find delicious ways to use what you already have. You might just save yourself a trip to the grocery store.

2. Set up a menu

If you're going to cook at home, first determine the main course and a couple side dishes. What ingredients do you need, and will you have any extra of those ingredients? If you’re going to use a loaf of bread to make stuffing, consider using any extra slices for bread pudding or to bake into croutons to top a salad.

3. Give some love to your leftovers

Leftovers can be delicious, and it’s fun to revive them into new dishes. Leftover turkey or chicken can be made into sandwich spreads, shredded onto salads, or added to cooked pasta. Barbecued meat can be chopped and wrapped in a tortilla along with cheese, lettuce, and salsa. As for vegetables, they can be added to soups, salads, or stir fries. Leftovers provide a great opportunity to get creative and build filling meals that will last you the rest of the week.

4. Freeze meals to enjoy later

If you have a big pot of soup you won’t eat all at once, pour it into a container, mark it with a date, and save it for later! You can do the same with fruits to make smoothie packs and with vegetables to stew for homemade stock. Frozen foods do not lose any of their nutrients, and they last longer than food stored in the fridge.

5. Properly store leftovers and food scraps

When storing leftovers, make sure to label them with a date and place older food near the front of your fridge and freezer for easy access. By placing it at the front, you won’t run the risk of food going bad before you can eat it just because you couldn’t see it.

Community Spotlight: The Market Deli and Bakery takes imperfect produce and turns them into healthy and affordable meals.

Being resourceful in the kitchen isn’t a new concept for some. A local business that tries to make the most of the food it already has is the Market Deli and Bakery in the Maite Pay-Less grocery store. Through its “Glow Up” initiative, Market Deli takes imperfect, but otherwise fresh and edible, fruits and vegetables from Pay-Less that would have been thrown away and turns them into affordable plant-based meals. Cucumbers are sliced and pickled in kimchee sauce, eggplants are diced and simmered in coconut milk, and fruits are turned into jams or salads — all sold for no more than $2.

Market Deli Owner Lenny Fejeran said he thought of starting the initiative after seeing so much imperfect produce thrown into the trash.

“I just wanted to take this free food and pass it onto the community through the Glow Up,” Fejeran said. “It would have been trash if it didn't get funneled through us.”

Since its start in October, the initiative has diverted hundreds of pounds of produce from being thrown away.

Fejeran said another reason he started “Glow Up” is because he wanted to provide healthy meals that are accessible to the community.

“If you look at this coronavirus, the death toll is for people who have underlying health conditions,” Fejeran said. “One of our initiatives is to make people eat healthier without them knowing and to take care of those underlying health conditions, like heart disease, obesity, and other illnesses that really affect this community more than the pandemic itself. That's all from the heart. All these things went through my mind as I did the Glow Up.”

Whether you’re cooking at home or ordering takeout, the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability team hopes that you have a safe and sustainable holiday season!

This article was written by Amanda Dedicatoria, science communicator with the UOG Center for Island Sustainability.