5 Ways to Cut Down on Post-Thanksgiving Food Scraps

Here’s how to do your part to keep food from going to landfills

By Ariel Gans

November 21, 2017


Photo by maerzkind/iStock

In the United States alone, approximately 133 billion pounds of food is wasted each year. According to the EPA, that’s 31 percent of our total food supply. These food scraps go to landfills and release methane, contributing to global warming. Whether or not you’re cooking this Thanksgiving, here are five ways to avoid wasting food.

Food Calculator

What do you need to host Thanksgiving dinner? With the food calculator from the Natural Resources Defense Council, you can find out in minutes. This guestimator takes into account the expected number of guests, their projected eating capacity, the number of leftover meals you desire, and the type of meal you’re looking for (vegetarian, classic, or smorgasbord) to create the perfect grocery list. Enjoy.

Refrigerator Thermometer

Now that you have your ingredients, you have to keep them fresh for the big day. The fridge thermometer is an essential and affordable gadget. Incorrect temperatures are one of the biggest contributors to household food waste; a recent study by Daily Mail found that a whopping 75 percent of people are running their fridges at too high of a temperature. That accounts for 4.2 million tons of food waste and represents even more wasted money and time. 

You can purchase your own fridge thermometer here.


Now that you’ve made your meal and preserved your extra ingredients, you might consider giving your leftovers away. OLIO can help. It's a free app that connects neighbors and local businesses so that surplus food can be shared instead of thrown away. This includes food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, and the groceries in your fridge. For your convenience, OLIO can also be used for nonfood household items. It’s easy. To make an item available, simply open the app, add a photo, description, and when and where the item is available for pickup. To access items, browse the listings available near you, request what you’d like, and arrange a pickup via private messaging.

Fruit and Vegetable Disk

Even if your refrigerator is just right, you need to preserve that extra half sweet potato. Once you cut your produce, it can quickly rot before you have time to eat it. Spoiled produce can be frustrating and expensive, not to mention wasteful. A fruit and vegetable disk, like the ExtraLife Produce Preserver, takes care of that. Fruit and vegetables emit ethylene gas as they ripen, which accelerates spoilage, so these affordable little disks aim to absorb rot-inducing gases and extend food's shelf life in the process. 


Another way to recycle your excess food: the Copia app. For a small, volume-based fee, the app schedules pickups of your surplus food by certified food handlers, who safely deliver it to local nonprofits in need. You can track surplus trends, make better buying decisions, access tax deductions, and even receive photos from the people you fed. Download it today for a seamless food recovery that can make another’s Thanksgiving.