sustainable thanksgiving tips

4 Ways To Minimize Your Food Waste This Thanksgiving

We spoke with ICE chefs about how to scale down your throwaways for the upcoming holiday season.

Creating a decadent Thanksgiving feast that’s both tasty and environmentally-friendly is easier than many people may think. We spoke with ICE chefs to learn how they eliminate food waste and make the Thanksgiving table more sustainable.

Here's a look at some of the ICE chefs' favorite tips for using extra scraps, fats and bones to create a delicious meal while minimizing food waste.

Break Down Your Turkey

This arguably should be the first step in creating your Thanksgiving meal, by first removing the turkey breasts and legs from the carcass and setting them aside. Then, break down the actual carcass and roast the bones in the oven, and if the turkey neck is inside of the turkey, that can be roasted as well.

“Cooking with whole foods and using the whole product is a great way to minimize waste both before and after the meal,” says ICE’s Director of Nutrition Celine Beitchman. (Bonus: it’s also a great way to get more nutrients in your dish.)

More from Chef Celine: Demystifying Dietary Guidelines

By roasting the carcass, you will bring out layers of flavor that can be used to create your own stock or demi-glace, which saves you from needing to buy one from the store.

Save Your Scraps

“When I make Thanksgiving dinner, literally every scrap of turkey, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, haricot verts with almonds — all of it — becomes the base for my turkey pot pie,” says ICE Culinary Arts Chef-Instructor Christopher Arturo.

You can also use the sautéed vegetable scraps and turkey offal to add flavor to your stock that can act as a base for a hearty soup or stew.

RECIPE: Thanksgiving Leftover Grilled Cheese 

Reserve the Fat

On the day of Thanksgiving, season and roast the turkey breasts and legs. While the stock and turkey are cooking, skim any residual fat from both and use this to incorporate into any other recipes that need additional flavor — the fat is particularly perfect for stuffing.

“You can even use the turkey fat in place of butter for your pot pie crust,” adds Chef Chris.

Get Creative with Leftovers

“Most nights I like to cook for just that meal but Thanksgiving is a meal worthy making enough for leftovers,” says Chef Celine. “All the typical foods and their variations can be repurposed for days.” 

Take cranberry sauce, for example. ICE's Director of Pastry Research & Development, Jürgen David, serves his over ice cream or folds it into cake or brownie batter prior to baking. He also suggests swapping it with your pantry jelly.

“As someone who isn’t married to peanut butter and grape jelly, cranberry sauce would be good,” says Chef Jürgen.

Instead of making the traditional shepherd’s pie, Chef Jürgen adds flour, egg and cheese to his leftover mashed potatoes before throwing them into a waffle iron for a sinful, elevated potato pancake.

“You can’t let it go too long [in the waffle iron], otherwise it sticks,” he adds.

By using these methods to reduce your waste, you can get the most out of the ingredients that you’re using, save money and positively impact the environment, all while infusing more flavor into your food. Happy Thanksgiving!

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