November 2023: How to Create a More Sustainable Thanksgiving Meal

Americans waste more than 300 million pounds of food every Thanksgiving, according to ReFED. Inefficient cooking habits also lead to plenty of energy waste. Here’s how you can enjoy a more sustainable Thanksgiving meal — helping the environment and your energy budget.

Reducing food waste

Here are some simple tips for reducing food waste while cooking your holiday meal.

  • Plan your menu. Create a detailed menu and make a shopping list based on the number of guests and their preferences. This will help you buy only what you need.
  • Learn proper portion sizes. Educate yourself on recommended portion sizes to avoid overcooking. Understanding how much to prepare for each guest can significantly reduce food waste.
  • Serve buffet style. Set up a buffet-style meal where guests can serve themselves. This allows them to choose what they will eat, reducing the chance of food being left untouched.
  • Compost food scraps. Set up a compost bin or pile to dispose of fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells. Composting is a sustainable way to reduce food waste
  • Get creative with leftovers. Repurpose leftovers into new dishes like turkey sandwiches, soups or casseroles. It’s a great way to minimize food waste and enjoy more delicious meals.
  • Share leftover food. If you have an abundance of leftovers, consider sharing them with friends and family. Pack up extra food in containers and give it to those who would appreciate it.
  • Freeze extra food items. If you have leftover dishes that won’t be eaten soon, freeze them for later use. Freezing preserves the quality of the food and reduces the chances of it going to waste.

Cooking more efficiently

Use these tips to create a satisfying meal that’s light on your energy budget.

  • Preheat the oven to the exact temperature required. Preheating isn’t necessary for foods that cook for several hours.
  • Avoid opening the oven door. It wastes energy and lowers the temperature of the oven.
  • Cook with glass or ceramic baking dishes if you can. They retain heat better than metal.
  • Conserve energy by baking several batches of cookies, or more than one pie, at a time.
  • Keep pots and pans covered to prevent heat loss and reduce cooking time.
  • Clean burners after every use. A clean burner heats more efficiently, using less energy.

With just a little planning and extra effort, you and your guests can enjoy a holiday feast that’s easy on your energy bills and the environment. Visit for energy efficiency tips.


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