How to Make the Most of Holiday Leftovers

It's the most wonderful time of the year! And that means spending valuable time with friends and family, enjoying delicious food at holiday parties, and celebrating! With leftovers and “food waste” often high, and so many diversions and parties to go to, we sometimes forget to take only what we can finish, especially when buffets, and potlucks taunt us at every turn.

When we throw away food, we are throwing away hard earned money as well as throwing away the water and land used to grow that food, and wasting energy used to transport our food.

  • In 2016, Canada’s GHG emissions were 704 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) *
  • Agriculture in Canada accounts for 8.5% of the COproduced and nearly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.*
  • During the holidays our household waste often increases by about 30%.*

Food is vital for survival, but it is also a huge stress on our last remaining natural and biodiverse regions. And at this time of year when we grow enough food to feed everyone and between 30%-40% of what we grow never makes it to a dinner plate, that is a lot of pressure on our food system, and a lot of waste.

The mission of the Halton Food Council is to encourage and facilitate dialogue and collaboration among food related organizations, agencies, services, food producers and distributors, consumers, business and government to develop strategies for the promotion and facilitation of the vision and bring it to action

Often in my job I find myself talking about food waste, whether it is during our children's cooking classes and pointing out how we can use all our scraps to make healthy food, teaching the riches of composting, and growing and eating what you can. So if we can make more food available from what’s already produced—by minimizing waste—we might be able to slow down our impacts on the environment.

But, I know what is really on everyone's mind is, "What can I do with all those delicious leftovers that I haven't already tried?"

Well, if you’re passionate about parsnips, or hoping to conserve some carrots, consider this: preventing and reducing food waste is one of the best things you can do to reduce your food waste.

This holiday season, avoid tossing food in the trash by taking these steps:

  • Prepare “just enough" for potlucks, I use the 6-8 serving rule
  • Encourage friends and family to take leftovers home (which may mean labelling your favourite tupperware or stocking up on yoghurt containers).
  • Store leftovers in the freezer to enjoy after you’ve had a break from them for a little while. Alternately, the "porch" freezer is a good location if you have a heavy box, or snow.
  • Experiment with one of our recipes from the blog, and
  • Search well known blogs for new ideas! (I am a sucker for all recipes from Foodland Ontario, the Food Network Canada and BBC Food).

The key is to get creative and prevent waste from even occurring. Make preventing food waste your personal gift of conservation this holiday season!

- Alyson

Alyson Prokop-Baker works for Halton Food Council as the Community Garden Lead for our Burlington gardens.