Zero Waste Team: Science City Citizens Share Holiday Food Secrets

Before heading to the store, ‘Shop’ your kitchen first! See what you have on hand and save money by not buying more. Photo Courtesy LAC

Zero Waste Tip: When planning holiday meals, avoid the urge to make too much. Plan meals, shop carefully and have recipes on hand to use leftovers.

You’ve heard about the widespread problem of wasted food, right? How we send 35% of the food we produce to the landfill, and about the $1,600 per year in food the average family throws away that they don’t eat? Not to mention all the resources, land, water and greenhouse gases that go with it! Now is the perfect time of year to turn that around and learn some new habits. Show your thankfulness for holiday food by not wasting it with these tips from our Zero Waste Team:

Less is More!  Make Less, Take Less, Waste Less. Jody Benson says, “The only tip I have is what my mom always told us—when you go to a buffet, go to a big dinner, go out to eat, don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach; take small portions, then eat everything on your plate even if you’re afraid of getting fat. The whole deal is for the big meals, don’t overcook, and don’t over-serve.” Check out The Guest-imator and other great food-saving tools at

Holiday Time is for Sharing, Not Shopping: Katie Leonard reports that, “Right now, an important benefit of reducing food waste is that we can make fewer trips to the grocery store. Foods with the shortest shelf life get eaten first. Any not eaten right away are cooked into recipes for later in the week or month, or they are cooked and stored for when there is more time to create an entire recipe. We don’t shop until we have used up everything that could possibly be combined into new recipes.” A great way to find recipes to use what you have on hand is

No More “Money Down the Drain” (literally!): Susan B. tells us that, “I think a huge benefit I have personally discovered is when I reduce food waste I save on my weekly grocery bill. Also, I feel pretty guilty when I am tossing out food that has sat too long in my freezer/fridge, so anytime I can avoid that is a plus!”

How to Make a Cook Happy:  No cook wants to see their lovingly-prepared feast end up in the trash can. Environmental Services Manager Angelica Gurule reports that “My family and I bring leftover containers to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners so we can all take something yummy home and eat it later. Repurposing old jars, butter or sour cream tubs are perfect for storing and transporting leftovers. Just remember to never reheat food in plastic or Styrofoam, it releases toxic endocrine disruptors. BAD STUFF!!!”

It’s Not Waste, It’s a Way to Meet Your Neighbors! For those few food scraps or leftovers that don’t get eaten, consider composting. Madeline Bolding found a calling to create a Facebook group to help. She says, “Lots of people may not have the time, energy, interest, or space to compost on the regular, but lots of us have a neighbor who does. Our goal is to give people a low-commitment way to dispose of food scraps, either in small, regular amounts or after one-time events that generate a lot of organic waste like Thanksgiving dinner, picnics with watermelon and corn on the cob, and when the autumn leaves fall. By focusing on neighborhoods, we can keep exchanges easy and give people a way to meet their neighbors.”  Check out Los Alamos Compost Exchange on Facebook to share your scraps!

Need more tips, or have questions?  We have resources at LOSALAMOSNM.US/GOGREEN or feel free to reach out to us at ZWLA@LACNM.US.  Happy Holidays to all!