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    Yanna's Green Living Blog

    Another Thanksgiving Dinner to Remember

    We cooked. We ate. We had leftovers.

    Sounds about right? Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This year our goal was to not go overboard with our menu and avoid having a freezer full of leftovers. Mission accomplished! We knew we would have fewer people than in previous years so we downsized the turkey... and how wonderful it was to brine and roast an eleven pound turkey! We scaled back the sides too; especially the fresh veggies. They just don't taste as good when reheated and that means it stays in the refrigerator while we pretend it's not eventually going in the trash.

    And our other wins? No plastic plates, utensils or cups!! Well, it really wasn't difficult since we had less than ten people, but we're bragging about it anyway.

    Now on to Christmas.....


    Can We Really Eliminate Disposable Tableware for Thanksgiving Dinner?

    First of all, let's just say that we're definitely not preaching about this topic because we're having a tough time with this one.

    Our family gatherings are far from a formal affair. Couple that with the fact that everything's bigger in Texas and you end up with an overload of food, dishes, pots, pans etc. So our first instinct has always been to reduce the cleanup effort by using disposable serving ware and tableware.

    Well we think differently now and this plan no longer sits well with us. The amount of garbage we used to create for one dinner makes us cringe now. So what's a more realistic plan? We don't have all the answers but here are a few obvious tips that we had to remember:

    1) Don't be afraid of your dishwasher. If you have one, use it. Don't get the 100 pack of disposable plates so you won't have to pack the dishwasher. If you don't think you can completely eliminate the disposables, try cutting back gradually. How about real plates for dinner and small single-use plates for dessert?

    2) Explore options for single-use tableware. How about using pressed leaf or bamboo plates for dessert?

    3) Setup a couple recycling "stations" and make sure your guests don't put recyclable drink containers in the trash.

    4) Encourage guest to bring their own container for leftovers. No it's not tacky. It's mostly family and friends right? Right. So they can put leftovers in their reusable containers instead of expecting you will have Ziploc bags and plastic throw-away containers.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!


    Shop More to Waste Less?

    As you know, we've been thinking about our food buying habits after we had to throw away everything in our packed freezer after a power outage thanks to Hurricane Harvey. I'm happy to say that one month later the freezer only contains a box of popsicles.

    So what have we been doing? Well, we are consciously buying groceries a week at a time. So more store visits... but less extra stuff. More planned purchases and less buying on a whim. This may already be the norm for many people, but it's a new mode of operation for us.

    In the past, we would often go to the grocery store with just a basic list and expect to get ideas for meals while shopping. Well we all know it doesn't always play out that way. So we ended up buying too much fresh veggies or too much meat. When those lofty meal ideas didn't pan out over the next few days, the veggies went in the trash and the meat moved to the freezer.

    Now we create a menu for the week and buy only what we need. Like I said, we know it's not a novel concept but it's a whole new way of thinking for us! We were buying too much so that we would have multiple options for what to cook at any given time. Plus, if there was a sale on frozen fish, we would buy more for later. Problem is when later came, we forgot what we had stashed away in the freezer.

    Bottom line is that we have wasted so much less food in the past few weeks!


    Hurricane Harvey Freezer Cleanout

    We lost power during Hurricane Harvey. It was only a few hours but we didn't realize that when the electricity came back, our freezer in the garage did not.

    Fast forward a few days and you can imagine the smell when I opened the freezer door. Whoa! I closed the door and ran!

    When we finally got the nerve to clean out the freezer, we had to stop and think about why we had a freezer full of food. I mean, we are a family of three... two adults and a toddler. Sure we entertain family and friends a couple times a month, but that still doesn't justify why we had a full freezer in addition to our refrigerator and freezer in the kitchen.

    Even if the freezer hadn't stopped working, I can tell you that some of that food would have been thrown out anyway... and that's part of our journey to waste less that we have been avoiding.

    Why do we cook too much when we have family gatherings?

    Why do we freeze leftovers and then not remember to use it?

    Why do we buy too much stuff just because it's on sale?

    What's a better way to buy groceries to minimize wasted food?

    This what we'll talking about this week. Stay tuned.