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Tip List: Don't Let Holiday Foods Go to Waste

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The USDA estimates 35% of meat goes unused. (waranyu/Adobe Stock)
The USDA estimates 35% of meat goes unused. (waranyu/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
December 12, 2019

BLACKFOOT, Idaho – The holidays mean lots of big meals – and also lots of food waste.

But a few tips could help people put those leftovers to good use.

Year-round, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 30 to 40% of food is thrown away.

Julie Buck, a dietitian with the University of Idaho extension office in Bingham County, says one easy way to avoid waste from big meals is to plan ahead and know how many people are coming.

Online portion calculators can tell you how much to buy.

Buck also suggests learning to love leftovers. She says in her house, they're called "plan overs."

"Don't plan seven days of menus,” she urges. “Plan for a day of reuse and rescue from your fridge, pantry or freezer. It's a great way to make sure that we're participating in the fullest in those food items that are becoming costly to all of us."

Buck says some food traditionally bound for the trash can be rescued too.

For instance, stale bread can be made into croutons or stuffing, and vegetable tops and bones can be turned into soup stock.

There's another option for food before sending it to the landfill. It can help feed someone in need.

Buck says Idahoans should check with their local food banks or pantries to see what their donation requirements are.

"It could be as small as that extra garden lettuce that you're growing,” she points out. “So check in with them, find out what their criteria is, what days it needs to be delivered and in what form - if it's fresh, frozen. If it needs to be pre-washed and packaged."

Buck also encourages people to contact their local extension office if they want more information on what to do with crops, livestock, or in their kitchen.

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