Whether you've become conscious of your food waste because of its impact on the world or because you're pinching pennies, reducing food waste seems to be a trend that everyone is into. But around the holidays, there always seems to be an excess of food around the table creating a lot more food waste as a result.

Rachael Piorko

This is the one time of year where it's (sorta) acceptable to make a ton of something for the sake of having it around, but it doesn't have to be this way. Whether you're hosting a holiday meal, bringing food for a party, or are stuck with leftovers, keeping a few tips and tricks in mind can help cut down on food waste.

Plan Your Menu Accordingly

beer, maple syrup, alcohol, liquor
Oriana Abreu

For whatever reason, when it comes to holiday foods, we just have to have mashed potatoes and roasted potatoes and sweet potato casserole and sweet potato pie. On any other day, this would be totally ridiculous. 

Having all these dishes is fun and considered tradition for most, but it tends to create an excess when dishes are added to the menu just for to make the table look great. Try to limit the menu to just one of every kind of dish and coordinate with friends and family so no one brings duplicate dishes that end up getting wasted.

If you must have three kinds of pie at the table (no judgement), cut recipes in half so everyone is more inclined to take multiple, smaller portions of the different selections. Consider making mini pies to encourage guests to take more of a variety of sweets.

Shop Smarter

Parsa Lotfi

Before you start shopping for ingredients, take inventory of what you already have. Play around with substitutions and recipe amounts to utilize what's already in your fridge and pantry.

When shopping, buy only what you need. Buying in bulk is usually a money saver, but if you know you aren't going to use five bunches of kale before it goes bad, it ends up being wasted. Understand expiration dates to get the most out of your food purchases.  

Get a head count of your party before you start shopping and cooking. Use an online calculator to determine how much food you should cook. No matter what you do, you're bound to have leftovers, so it may even be a safe bet to prepare a little less. 

Use What You Buy

herb, vegetable, condiment, parsley
Becky Hughes

Food scraps have huge flavor potential when you use them in the right way. Use your veggie peels and meat trimmings as a starting point to make an easy stock that can last for months in the freezer.

If you can't see yourself needing stock anytime soon (meaning you've probably never tried this bomb butternut squash soup), consider composting your scraps. 

Leftovers Are a Major Key

cheese, bread
Ethan Cappello

Is there anyone out there that doesn't enjoy holiday leftovers more than the dinner itself? You'll end up with piles of food no matter what, so be prepared to use 'em.

If you're hosting, ask guests to bring tupperware to divvy out a little bit of everything to everyone. If you're headed to a family or friend's house, ask if they'd be willing to share the leftover wealth with you.

Leftovers are a gift that are begging to be reimagined in new, equally delicious ways. No creativity? No problem. There are recipes out there for holiday leftover- themed pizza and sandwiches in addition to some normal ways to repurpose your leftovers. 

chocolate, tart, cake, tea
Julia Murphy

In some weird alternative reality where you get tired of eating holiday dishes, you can freeze almost anything to enjoy later. I'm thinking that some leftover pie would be especially comforting come February.