4 Ways to Avoid Holiday Food Waste

My mom, bless her, expresses her love for friends and family by making and giving them food. No matter the occasion, whether it’s a weekday, a special occasion, or a holiday, my mother shows up at my doorstep with wrapped up packages of food. I do not complain. Except for when it comes to her spread on Christmas day. 

Every year, my mom stuffs our family so full of appies—her famous lumpia (spring rolls), curried chicken rolls, mini quiches, veggies and dip, the unnecessary array of cheese and crackers—that we all become uncomfortably full. That means the main meal goes relatively untouched. Even though our family loves leftovers, there is inevitably some waste. That really bugs me. 

Pete Pearson, the Senior Director of Food Loss and Waste at the World Wildlife Fund, once said: 

“When we throw away food, we’re also throwing away the land, water, and energy used to produce that food.”

With that in mind, I’ve decided to take a more tactical approach to holiday dining (and convincing my mom to take it easy on the appies). I thought you might also appreciate these tips on avoiding food waste this holiday season.

1. Take Stock

Do inventory for what food you already have and use easy strategies to help you remember what you have so you avoid doubling up. You might want to start an “Eat Me First” shelf in your fridge for foods that are nearing the end of their edible life. Reach for them first when preparing quick snacks or meals during the holidays. 

Think about this: More than $10 billion or 2.38 million tonnes of food is wasted by Canadian consumers every year.

2. Plan, Plan, Plan!

The goal here is to have just enough food for the holidays, not over buying and over preparing. The way to do that is to be realistic about how much food you actually need. I recently discovered this nifty Guest-imator, a fun online tool to help you figure out how much food you’ll need for any particular meal. 

Also, take note of when you plan on eating the fresh foods you buy and avoid purchasing any just-in-case items. There’s no point in buying something if you can’t eat it before it goes bad!

3. Show Love for Leftovers

Some dishes really do taste better the next day, don’t they? If you are having your family over this year, encourage them to bring their own containers so they can take home leftovers. 

As for the remaining food, you have a few options:

  1. Store it properly in your fridge with a plan to eat it soon.
  2. Store it in the freezer to enjoy later on.
  3. Get creative by trying new recipes. There are so many on the Web including lots of great ones on the Love Food Hate Waste site. I especially like that you can search recipes based on the items you have on hand. 
  4. Make some time-tested family recipes using the ingredients you have. I’m thinking of turkey and rice soup. Mmmmmm. 

4. Share With Others

If you’re left with good food that you either haven’t opened, can’t eat, or don’t have space to keep—like gift baskets or extra canned foods— consider donating it your local food banks or soup kitchens, or even offering it up on social media to anyone who might be able to put it to good use.

I’m just going to put it out there: etee can’t help you with your inventory or your planning but we can help with food storage solutions. And right now, we have a great deal on our holiday Food Storage Kit. 


Did you know that Canadian families throw out 24 to 45 percent more garbage over the holidays? The large bulk of it is food waste! We can do better. Let’s!

Eat well, be well, and don’t forget to mind the planet,

- Chantal + team etee

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