Holiday Food Waste

December 7, 2023

Holiday Food Waste


Whether it’s a big family meal or sharing your favorite cookie with a loved one, connecting with others over food is one of the most magical parts of the holiday season. But when it comes to food waste, the holiday season also brings serious challenges for our environment and our wallets. 


Estimates of annual food waste can vary widely from year to year, however most experts agree that the total wasted food in the United States typically falls between 70-100 billion pounds of food. Wasted food is a problem for many reasons. As our food breaks down in the landfill it produces methane gas, a powerful greenhouse gas that has a direct impact on our planet’s temperature and climate system. It also wastes valuable resources like finite landfill space, the water, land, and other resources required to produce that food, and fuel and other costs of processing, transporting, and storing that food. 


Additionally, wasted food can place an additional financial strain on families. The EPA estimates the cost of wasted food for the average family of four to total around $1,500 every year. As grocery prices remain high, it’s in our best interest to minimize the amount of food that we are throwing away.


 Here are some simple tips to help you reduce your food waste this holiday season:

  • Make a shopping list before you leave for the store, and only buy what you know you’ll be able to use.

  • Plan an "eat the leftovers" night as a great way to use holiday meal ingredients and leftovers. Try our Loaded Mashed Potato Stuffed Veggies and Open Faced Turkey Melts for holiday leftover ideas.

  • Encourage family and friends to bring containers to take leftovers home with them after holiday gatherings.

  • Buying in large quantities (e.g., buy one, get one free deals) only saves money if you use all the food before it spoils, so only buy what you need.

  • Befriend your freezer! Most foods can easily be stored in the freezer, preserving them for months to come.


To learn more about preventing food waste at home, register here for our new free community waste reduction classes starting Mondays in January, or visit for more information.


By: Emily Menshew, Nutrition Education Associate