It's estimated that here in the United States, some 40 percent of our food is either thrown away or unbought, left to rot. And with the advent of modern-day refrigeration and the fact that one out of ten Bay Area locals goes hungry every day, there's no reason why you can't find a way to repurpose at least most of your Thanksgiving leftovers.
Unless you and your tablemates today boast second stomachs – fun fact: Ostriches apparently have three – it's almost certain you'll have a bevy of leftovers by the tail-end of dinner. So, in honor of curbing domestic food waste and, too, helping the underserved in our communities, here are some quick tips on what to do with today's uneaten morsels.
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) November 28, 2019
Take your canned goods and properly sealed delights to a nearby food bank…tomorrow. Generally speaking, it's a bit of a food safety faux pas to bring homemade, unsealed perishables to food banks and pantries for donation. For that reason alone, its why most will not take any of the sort – but, however, they'd be more than happy to take any canned or sealed nonperishables. Take your unused, unopened Libby's Pumpkin Purree, green beans, that unopened sleeve of dinner rolls, and other like-contained food items to a nearby food pantry, like one of the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank's various locations.
Freeze those second servings for another day. Most edible items like steamed or sauteed vegetables, cobblers, pumpkin pies, loaves of bread, and even cooked turkeys can be frozen for weeks, as long as they're sealed well. (Read: never stow still-hot food inside the freezer, always wait till it's room temperate or colder before promptly suctioning out as much as air possible to store in the freezer.) Consider, as well, marking each item with today's date, so you'll know exactly how long it's been there. The only things that won’t fair well inside the freezer are fresh, fleshy vegetables, leafy greens, salads, etc.; they'll inevitably become frozen cellulose mush in a few hours.
Repurpose the "scraps" – bones and all. That defleshed, seemingly useless turkey carcass resting on your countertop? It'll make great, umami-forward stock. (Here's a great recipe for "day-after" stock from Bon Appeite for reference.) Emptied glass jars can be reused as drinking cups or cute AF pots for succulents; leftover rolls and breads make for great next-day french toasts, bread puddings, and breadcrumbs that could be stored for use another time; compost the skins of potatoes, yams, you name it give your soils a shot of nutrients.
Put together bags of dog-friendly treats and ask around to see if any neighbors have, say, chickens or other livestock that'd appreciate a festival meal. Unseasoned turkey (or turkey with the skinned removed) is a great to-go treat that's free of the nasty chemicals commonly found in traditional, mass-marketed canine treats. Grains (rice, wheat, etc.), cooked and cut meats, corn, shrimp tails, and vegetables make for great chicken pickings. Potbellied will eat…well, just about anything.
And, finally, when in doubt: The put-it-atop-the-trash-can-trick is always a go-to. If your fridge and freezer are already brimming, pets fed, and all other canned nonperishables donate, consider putting the remainder of your Thanksgiving feast in paper to-go containers on the lid of your trash. You very well might end-up making someone's day.
For more information on how you can help mitigate Bay Area food waste and help those who need a meal, visit www.sfmfoodbank.org/food-fund-drives to see about hosting a future food drive.
Image: Facebook via San Francisco-Marin Food Bank