Tips to make the most of food this holiday season
For most of us, the holidays are about spending time with the people we love, and sharing good food is a big part of that. Sadly, more food goes to waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than at any other time of the year. Here are some tips for celebrating food and community without the waste.
Plan Ahead: Hosting a dinner party for 10 is tricky if you’re used to cooking for two! Keep the menu simple for less stress and to save food. By choosing dishes that celebrate the season’s bounty—squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and more—you can maximize your food budget and take climate action. Before the big party, try using up what you have on hand to make room in the fridge for ingredients you’ll buy, food you’ll prep in advance, and those delicious leftovers.
Beyond Turkey Sandwiches: Feed your guests not once but twice by offering “seconds” to take home after your holiday feast. Tip: Your stash of disposable take-out containers and yogurt tubs will be handy for packaging the goodies. Be sure to date and label. Still have leftovers? Turn them into new dishes like vegetable stock, classic turkey soup, shepherd’s pie, or the Squash Bread Pudding in the recipe below.
Handmade Treats as Gifts: Skip the online order and gift edible DIY goodies like preserved lemons, veggie pickles, jams, applesauce, and homemade granola (see recipe below)! Tip: To package your homemade food gifts, upcycle cute glass jars you’ve saved. Cover lids with fabric or paper held in place with a bow.
Give Back to the Community: According to the Alameda County Community Food Bank, one in four local residents lacks reliable access to affordable, nutritious food and depends on community organizations to fill that gap. Get acquainted with a local food recovery organization and consider a monthly gift (of your time or money)—because the need is year-round! To find groups, visit StopFoodWaste.org/CommunityFood
Each year, Edible Communities asks its publishers to submit nominations from their local communities for the our annual Sustainability Award. Nominations are vetted by the Edible Communities Board of Advisors and ranked based on scope of work, community impact, and how the work relates to sustainability. Ultimately, the winner is chosen by the award recipient from the prior year.
Please join Edible East Bay in congratulating StopWaste for winning the 2022 Edible Communities Sustainability Award. Click here to read more about the award and why StopWaste was chosen for this honor.
Winter Squash Bread Pudding
Use up stale bread in this bread pudding from Chef Jen Franco at Food Shift, an Alameda-based nonprofit developing practical solutions that reduce food waste, nourish the community, and provide jobs. Visit Food Shift at FoodShift.net.
Yields 6 servings
- 4 cups day-old bread, cubed
- 3 cups cubed and roasted winter squash
- 2 eggs (or 3 tablespoons corn starch as a vegan version)
- 2 cups milk (any type)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Oil an 8 x 8–inch baking dish.
Combine bread and squash and add to the prepared baking dish. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in milk, sugar, and optional flavorings. (Vegan version: Whisk ¼ cup cold non-dairy milk with cornstarch until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining 1¾ cups liquid, sugar, and flavorings, then stir in cornstarch mixture.) Pour milk mixture over the bread, toss to combine, and let sit for 30 minutes.
Bake for 35–45 minutes until golden brown and the liquid has set.
Yields approximately 5 cups
- ½ cup oil, e.g. coconut, canola, or olive oil
- ½ cup honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or other spices (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups rolled oats
- ½–¾ cups nuts and seeds (optional)
- ½–¾ cups chopped dried fruits and chocolate chips (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sweetener, spices, and salt. Add in the oats, nuts, and seeds, stirring gently until ingredients are evenly coated. Spread mixture evenly over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 300°F, mix, respread, and bake 10 minutes more or until oats are golden brown. Transfer sheet to a rack and let granola cool completely. Loosen and break up granola with a spatula and mix in dried fruits and chocolate chips (if using).
Find more DIY gift idea recipes at StopFoodWaste.org/Gifts.