Guide to a Green Thanksgiving
Amidst the craziness of creating a menu, grocery shopping and bringing the family together, planning a greener Thanksgiving might not come up very high on the list of priorities. But in this time of giving, give yourself a break and rethink your holiday preparations with sustainability in mind. We’ve compiled a list of tips and suggestions to help you keep things green while maintaining your holiday traditions!
1) Do a Headcount
Make phone calls and send out online invites to confirm the details of who will be joining you at the dinner table. With a number in mind, you can cook your meals accordingly without having too much or too little of anything. Inquire about any special dietary needs your guests may have and make a list to spare yourself any last minute headaches. You may not be able to make an entire vegan dinner, but having a cornucopia of sides will help make every person at the table feel included.
2) Make a List – and Check Your Kitchen Twice
Before you rush off to the supermarket to stock up on vegetables, canned goods and the centerpiece turkey, do an inventory of your kitchen. You might just surprise yourself by stumbling on a few necessary items such as stocks for gravy and sauces or scraps of vegetables for stuffing. Once you’re done, create a shopping list – the more preparation you do in advance, the more time you’ll have on Thanksgiving to spend with loved ones and dig into that sweet potato pie.
3) Go to the Farmer’s Market
Thanksgiving meals are all about foods that are in season, and what better way to prepare than to visit your local farmer’s market? Root vegetables, squash and many fruits will be ripe for the picking and will be able to stay fresh for a few extra days while you’re getting your other ingredients. Consult your local farmers for recipe ideas that are sustainable and delicious.
4) Cook Mindfully
Meals that are prepped together, can be served together. Chances are, you’ll be juggling fine china if you’re trying to tackle appetizers, sides and the main course all at once. Similarly to the shopping list, create a list of what will be served at the dinner table and the preparations that will be necessary. If you’ll be using your oven or stove top a lot, you might find that a lot of your dishes will be cooked at the same temperature – put them in the oven together, you’ll reduce energy use and prep time!
5) Ask Guests to Bring To-Go Bags
Even if you’re hosting a competition of who can eat the most, chances are, you’ll still have enough leftovers for a few days. Ask your guests to bring reusable containers so that they can bring some stuffing home with them. By doing so, they’ll be participating in cleaning up and making sure that your delicious meal doesn’t go to waste.
6) Incorporate Leftovers into New Recipes
If you’ve still found yourself with more leftovers than you know what to do with after you’ve sent everyone home, then consider creating new recipes. From turkey wraps to soups and veggie salads, bring new life to your leftovers and new flavor to your dinner table by incorporating the foods you already have leftover in the fridge.
7) Give Back
What better way to get into the spirit of giving then giving back to the community? Bring your leftovers to a local soup kitchen to share that filling mac and cheese with those in need. If your uncle and his extended family can’t finish the meal or if your sister is on vacation and can’t make it, then you’ll have plenty to share with those who are less fortunate. Hundreds of individuals and families are unable to celebrate Thanksgiving traditionally, so you can do your part by making their holiday a little easier. And while you’re in the spirit of giving, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is Giving Tuesday – so make sure to do your part by volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating any gently used clothes for the coming cold months.