How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving from How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving

How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving

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How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving

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How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving

As you plan your holiday meal, show thanks for the plentiful food in your refrigerator and pantry by planning a meal that minimizes the amount of usable food scraps you toss out.

We’ve read the statistics. Roughly a third of the food produced for consumption is wasted every year. According to the NRDC, the U.S. is holding steady — above the world average — tossing almost 40 percent of food produced each year. That’s a lot of food, especially considering the U.S. is one of the largest producers in the world of staple foods like corn, wheat, and soybeans.

[slideshow:]Before you rush off to the store with your pages long list, take a quick inventory of what you already have. Note that “best by” dates are often a guideline, especially when it comes to canned goods, like that leftover canned pumpkin from last year.

Then, as you plan your menu consider how your dishes will fit together. Maybe you don’t like potato peels in your creamy mashed potatoes that you pathologically run through a ricer to ensure there are absolutely no lumps (we are with you on this one), but perhaps there is a use for those peels in another dish.

Try to get a firm head count. Wrangling RSVPs from guests can feel a lot like herding cattle, but the more certain you are of a number, the better you can plan portions, so you don’t over-shop, and end up with two pounds when one will do.

For the completely unavoidable scraps, consider starting a compost pile in your yard. Don’t have a yard? You can compost in your freezer.

Finally, share your leftovers with others by donating. Or, show your leftovers some love by turning yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner into tomorrow’s spectacular lunch.

Let your ingredients shine with these waste-free Thanksgiving menu ideas from starters to dessert.

No-Waste Appetizers

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No-Waste Appetizers

When planning your menu, think of appetizers that will coordinate with the rest of the meal and how you can repurpose food waste for other dishes or leftovers. Keep appetizers simple, so as not to stuff your guests before the meal. You will only need one or two things to snack on depending upon the size of your party.

Chicken Liver Mousse

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Chicken Liver Mousse

We save the chicken livers in the freezer every time we roast a chicken just for this special, rich, and decadent Chicken Liver Mousse treat, but that’s just us. If you need to buy them, your local butcher can help you out. Serve this mousse on crust-less toast points, and save the crusts for an easy, breakfast French Toast Strata.

Gravlax

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Gravlax

This refreshing Gravlax appetizer is lightly cured. Make it at least two days in advance to develop the best flavor. Then, save the salmon skin for Crispy Salmon Skin Fritters that you can serve alongside dinner.

No-Waste Sides

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No-Waste Sides

Thanksgiving sides can get pretty out of hand, especially if Aunt Sue will be crushed if you don’t serve sweet potato casserole, but everyone else waits all year for creamy mashed potatoes, when you know you also  need to make stuffing. Check out our picks for three side dishes — roasted vegetables, potatoes, and stuffing included — that minimize your food waste.

Roasted Radishes

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Roasted Radishes

We love the Slow-Roasted Radishes for fall, and of course, you can throw some carrots in there, too. The subtle spicy end notes of the radishes are mellowed by a hint of caramelized maple syrup. Don’t toss the radish tops, save those for this simple Radish Top Soup, or use the tender greens for a Whole Leaf Radish and Herb Salad.

Mashed Potatoes

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Mashed Potatoes

Instead of trashing all those potato peels this year leftover from your Thanksgiving Garlic Mashed  Potatoes, turn those scraps into another delicious dish to enjoy with your leftover or serve as an appetizer, like this Sautéed Kale Potato Skins recipe.

Stuffing

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Stuffing

When looking through your pantry before the holidays, account for any bread you might have. Stale bread is perfect for stuffing because the bread works like a sponge absorbing the turkey or chicken stock. Check out this recipe for a classic Brioche Stuffing. Save any crusts or crumbs for a Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread Pudding.

No-Waste Main Course

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No-Waste Main Course

There is so much you can do with your Thanksgiving turkey beyond the actual main course. Don’t let any of your holiday bird go to waste with these ideas that will keep you cooking straight through the holidays.

Thanksgiving Turkey

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Thanksgiving Turkey

We can’t get enough of this butterflied Brined and Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey recipe. It takes less time to cook than a traditional stuffed turkey and by cooking the legs separate from the breasts, you ensure that each cut is cooked perfectly without becoming dry.

Save the giblets for a rich and delicious Giblet Gravy to serve alongside your Thanksgiving turkey, but you aren’t done just yet. Once you have carved all you can eat from your bird, save the leftovers and use the bones to make a flavorful Turkey Stock along with any leftover herbs or vegetables.

No-Waste Dessert

No-Waste Dessert

For the final course, continue your no-waste theme by either amending your recipes to incorporate your usual waste or by saving the scraps from your fall fruit to repurpose in other recipes.

Apple Crostata

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Apple Crostata

Serve crostata instead of a traditional pie, and leave the apple skins on this time. Vegetable and fruit skins are extremely healthy, so you can feel good about serving something with some nutritional value. Plus, these apples are cooked down to a soft stew, so the skins won’t be chewy. To test out this simple dessert try this recipe for an Apple Crostata with an Oat Crumble Topping, and remember to save any leftover oats from the topping for a healthy oatmeal breakfast.

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Orange Cake

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Slow-Cooker Cranberry Orange Cake

Looking for a simple sweat-free way to contribute to this year’s Thanksgiving table? Check-out this simple recipe for a Slow-Cooker Cranberry Orange Cake. Then, save the orange peels for a fall cocktail to serve after Thanksgiving dinner like this Smoked Maple Old Fashioned.

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How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving

How to Cook a No-Waste Thanksgiving

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