4 Ways To Minimize Your Food Waste This Thanksgiving

Creating a beautiful Thanksgiving table that’s both tasty and environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be difficult. We spoke with Chef Ben Grebel, ICC Chef-Instructor of 6 years and one of our Professional Culinary Arts + Farm-to-Table program coordinators to learn how he eliminates food waste and makes his Thanksgiving table more sustainable.

Below, get his tips for using all of your scraps, fats and bones to create a delicious meal while minimizing food waste!

Break Down Your Turkey

Breaking down your turkey should be the first step in creating your Thanksgiving meal. Chef Ben recommends removing the turkey breasts and legs from the carcass and setting these aside. Then, break down the actual carcass and roast the bones in the oven—if the turkey neck is inside of the turkey, this can be roasted as well.

By roasting the carcass, you will be bringing out layers of flavor and using this to create a stock. This will make it so that you won’t have to make a separate stock or a demi-glaze from the store, saving you time and money.

Save Your Scraps

When you’re prepping vegetables for your stuffing or side dishes, save any scraps that you produce. These scraps can be sautéed and used in the next waste saving tip!

Make a Stock

Use the sautéed vegetable scraps to add flavor to your stock! Add the roasted turkey carcass and vegetables, in addition to thyme, bay leaf and black pepper to a stock pot with water on your stove. The offal from the turkey can also be added to the pot, which will give your stock a more mineral flavor.

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!

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!

5 Ways Food Can Help The Environment

Written by Kaya Daniels
California Campus, Professional Culinary Arts Student

I’ve only been in culinary school for four months, and I’ve already learned so much. Training with some of the most amazing chefs has taught me not only pristine cooking skills but also some unforgettable life skills. I’ve learned how to be a better chef, student, and overall person. As days go by, I’m beginning to realize the impact my peers and I make on the planet just by the way we cook in the kitchen. You wouldn’t believe how much one wastes until you realize what all you can make out of a single vegetable.

Although it is to be considered a new trend, sustainability and nutrition are very important to not only cooking but our planet as a whole. Knowing what you are taking out of the environment is essential to creating delicious dishes but knowing how to replenish the environment is even more important. As Earth Day just passed, I’d like to dedicate my first article to five ways food can change the environment.

1. Compost — Not Trash!

It may be very difficult to get into a new routine when you’ve already grown familiar to one. For a while, I was just tossing out scraps of vegetables and fruits. Now, I’ve learned that instead of throwing it away, compost it, so that it can be used to grow more vegetables and fruits.

2. Buy Organic

Yes, organic produce is more expensive than your regular produce, but these vegetables and fruits aren’t covered in pesticides or mutated with unknown DNA. How does this help the environment? Well, you, yourself, are a part of the environment so why would you want to harm yourself with chemical-ridden vegetables and fruits? Plus, the fewer people buy produce covered in pesticides, the more people will join together and realize that pesticides aren’t the best way to protect our produce.

3. Save the Cows!

I’m not saying go vegan or vegetarian. I’m saying you should be knowledgeable of where you get your meat from and how the livestock is treated. You do not want to support a feedlot or farm/barn raised cattle. This means that these animals are kept in poor conditions. Allowing the livestock to roam will not only affect the flavor of the meat but will also create a better life for the animals. Always be appreciative of the meat and produce that you can have from the environment.

4. Buy Local

This supports small businesses as well as the environment. Attending the weekly farmers’ market will introduce you to farms in your area that produce whole, clean produce. It is rare, but there are always a few people who like to false advertise their produce. So be cautious and research before you buy.

5. Eat Less

As Americans, we tend to want it all! The worst part is, we get it all, and then we can’t use it all at once, and then we waste it. Prevent waste by buying only what you need. Stop stocking up at Costco on things that will surely go bad quickly, and limit the number of things you put in your fridge. The less you buy, the less you waste. This will save you money and save the planet.


Before all of this, I didn’t know “Saving the Planet” was so easy. I was so quick to assume that it was a long and boring process, and honestly, I was annoyed by those that cared so much. After realizing the huge impact humans make on this planet, instead of turning a blind eye, I’m going to start making some serious life changes. I owe it to myself, the food industry and whoever comes after me to do so.

Follow along with Kaya on Twitter via @kayaelizabeth__ and on Instagram via @kaya.daniels
To view the original article published on The Odyssey Online, click here.