How To Reduce Holiday Food Waste

Scattered plates and kitchen ware with food waste

While the holiday season brings festive cheer, time spent with loved ones, and delicious food, it also welcomes more food waste than usual. During the holidays, global food waste skyrockets. In North America, more than 300 billion pounds of food are wasted every year, in part because of the holiday season. Fortunately, there are plenty of feasible solutions to this problem, just so long as people are willing to take the time to invest in greener solutions.

This winter, let’s work together to reduce our carbon footprint and work to reduce the amount of holiday leftovers to go to waste. In this guide, we’ll be sharing several strategies to create less food waste this busy holiday season, and tips for incorporating these habits into your holiday traditions.

Make a Grocery List

shopping list

One of the first places food waste happens is at the grocery store. We tend to overbuy during the holidays, an issue that is made worse when we forget to prepare a grocery list. To help yourself avoid overbuying, be sure to go through all of your recipes to create an accurate count of how much you need to purchase. 

Begin by crafting a solid grocery list filled with planned recipes. As you write out your grocery list, think strategically. Do you know the exact ingredients you’ll need for each recipe? Do any ingredients appear to be missing from your kitchen? Note those missing items on your grocery list and stick to them. How many meals will you be making?

As a golden rule, simply cook the proper amount of food for everyone. If you think you’re going to have too many leftovers, don’t worry! Soon, we’re going to cover further suggestions so you can form a proper plan of action, protecting yourself, your wallet, and the planet.

Use Ingredients From Home

Vegetables and fruits in the fridge

Before you visit the grocery store, assess your kitchen to waste fewer ingredients. You may have some of the required ingredients for your planned recipes already! Be sure to check all “sell by” and “use by” dates before ruling out a food item you can use. For instance, check for dried goods, canned goods, and frozen vegetables. Those particular food items usually have a longer shelf life and possibly will become a helpful addition to some future holiday recipes. 

Additionally, are you planning on baking any sweet treats? Perhaps you already have some of the necessary spices and baked goods in your pantry. After checking your pantry, fridge, cabinets, and the like, return to your grocery list and mark off what you already have in your kitchen. Any time you can incorporate pre-owned ingredients into holiday recipes, you often end up saving money and time in the long run!  

Consider Your Guest List Size

People having dinner

When it comes to the holidays, people often think the more, the merrier. However, that’s not a positive situation in the case of food waste. Many of us over prepare for the holidays, cooking an abundance of food and resulting in food waste from ample leftovers. All it takes is a bit of planning. As you prepare recipes for the big holiday meal, account for the number of people attending your function. 

Again, cooking the proper amount of food is key to diminishing overall holiday food waste. And based on your planned grocery list, you’ll already be able to determine how much food to cook for the holidays. If you’re able, consider adjusting certain measurements and portions to avoid the possibility of “plate waste.” Finally, be sure that your guests bring home some of the leftovers. When ample food is prepared or not eaten, the possibility of food waste increases significantly.

Anticipate Leftovers

Leftovers in a pan

During the holiday season, leftovers are inevitable. But leftovers are not necessarily negative, and you certainly don’t have to let all that holiday food go to waste! Here are several ideas for ensuring that your holiday leftovers don’t go to waste this season: 

  • If you can, send your guests home with some of the leftovers.
  • Freeze some of your leftovers to consume later. Foods like soups, meats, potatoes, and other vegetables all tend to freeze well.
  • Convert some of your leftovers into new recipes to consume throughout parts of the week, such as turkey sandwiches and soups. 
  • To get ideas for leftover recipes, research holiday recipe ideas online.

Donate Excess Goods

Donation drive

Unfortunately, food insecurity is a year-round, worldwide issue. Therefore, it never hurts to consider supporting hunger relief with safe, surplus food donations. But as one of the most meaningful times of the year is the holiday season, why not make a social impact by volunteering or donating to an impactful cause that combats rising hunger?

If you anticipate plenty of leftovers post-meal and want to help decrease hunger in your area, consider donating any extra unopened, non-perishable goods or canned items to your local food bank. You can even take it one step further by researching local volunteer opportunities for hunger relief. Many local food banks and pantries are always looking for volunteers and usually offer several special volunteering programs during the holiday season. 

Get Creative In The Kitchen

Roasted turkey in the middle of the table

Do you have roasted turkey or chicken featured in your holiday meal? You probably do! If so, then it’s time to keep getting creative with your food scraps. You can use leftover bones or onion skins to make a simple broth. And early fall brings harvests for winter squash, which tend to be a common staple item in holiday meals. You’ll probably have leftover stems from your squash, so be sure to throw those into a food composter, such as Lomi by Pela. As a bonus, you can toast all those extra squash seeds for a delicious, protein-filled snack or salad topping.

Lomi by Pela



Lomi allows you to turn food waste into plant-ready nutrients in under 24 hours. Boost your plants while reducing your waste.

Compost Your Food Scraps

Compost bin beside peeled vegetables

Here at Pela, we consider composting a viable solution to reducing one’s overall organic food waste and carbon footprint. Whenever we throw rotten food into a bin, we contribute further to the production of harmful methane gas. With composting, however, the possibilities are endless! Not just during the holiday season, but year-round.

Enter Lomi, Pela’s new compact composter designed to break down your food scraps with ease. Use Lomi twice a week or more to transform any pre-approved food scraps into nutritious plant soil. And during the holiday season, get ready to ramp up your food composting by converting all of your meat and vegetable scraps into organic fertilizer! 

Preventing food waste is one of the most important, mindful ways one can contribute to conserving our planet’s natural resources. When in doubt, consider composting any food scraps using Lomi and its various composting cycles! It’s a simple process. Just press a button, and within a maximum of 20 hours, Lomi takes care of the hard part.

Ready to join Pela’s mission by lessening your holiday food waste, creating a positive, long-lasting environmental impact? For more tips on reducing your carbon footprint and composting your food waste with Lomi, visit some of Pela’s previous blog posts