StopWaste’s Holiday Recipes and Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Photo Sweet Peas and Saffron

StopWaste’s Holiday Recipes and Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Fall and winter holiday celebrations often mean connecting or gathering with friends and family with food bringing us together. But sometimes this can also mean ending up with more food than we need. Those who have been involved with Alameda Backyard Growers in the past know there is a lot of time, labor, energy, care, and resources that go into growing this beautiful food. The same is true for food that we purchase from grocery stores and markets. Believe it or not, American families waste about a quarter of the food they buy. During the holiday season, Americans throw out an additional 25% more food than the rest of the year (that’s roughly an extra 1 million tons per week). Meanwhile, in our local Alameda County community, an estimated 1 in 4 residents are experiencing some level of food insecurity.

During the season of gratitude, the process of reducing wasted food starts with planning and expectations. For holiday meals, “Don’t feel pressured to live up to the impossible expectations set by glossy magazines,” advises Anne Marie Bonneau, aka “The Zero Waste Chef.” “Simple recipes can be just as delicious. Save money and stress by avoiding fancy ingredients you won’t be able to use up.” To help plan meals with less waste, try tools like the download able shopping list that takes into account food that is already in the pantry and the “The Guestimator,” a dinner party calculator, both available at resources.

Of course, even with diligent planning, there can be leftovers — and that can be a good thing! Let the feast live on by sending guests home with leftovers. Instead of packing up the goodies in newly purchased containers or zip-top bags, try reusing packaging that might otherwise have been recycled or put in the trash. Plan ahead and start saving take out containers and yogurt tubs now.

For the food that remains after the meal, there are countless delicious recipes to reinvent leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and even unfinished wine. Below are a couple of recipes that we love.

Turkey Bone Broth

1 turkey carcass from a roasted bird (okay to have some meat and skin attached)
1 onion, quartered
2 carrots, roughly chopped*
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped*
6 cloves garlic, smashed
Fresh herbs like rosemary, pars ley, etc. (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
7 quarts water

*Alternatively, you can use vegetable ends/scraps from other meal prep. Note: potato skins, carrot, and herb trimmings add great flavor to broth or vegetable stock.

Place the turkey carcass in a large stockpot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and spices, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for at least 8 to 10 hours, or up to 24 hours.

Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a large container. Compost the solids in your green bin. Once the broth is cooled, remove fat with a cold metal serving spoon and place into your green bin. Note: Do not pour grease down the drain as it will clog pipes.


• You can also use a slow cooker to make this recipe.
• The broth keeps in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.
• You may freeze the bones (and vegetable ends) to cook at a later time. This recipe can be modified to use what you have on hand, including bones from a rotisserie chicken, turkey legs, etc.

Winter Squash Bread Pudding (from the Food Shift Kitchen Guide)
Bread and dairy are commonly wasted items in the home. This recipe helps you use both ingredients to make a tasty breakfast or dessert. Feel free to adapt to make a savory version.

1 tsp neutral oil
4 cups day-old bread, cubed
3 cups cubed and roasted winter squash
2 cups milk (any type)
2 eggs or 3 Tbsp corn starch as a vegan version
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat an 8” x 8” baking dish with oil.

Combine bread and squash and add to the prepared baking dish.

Photo Credit By: 
Jen Franco, Food Shift

Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, if using. (Vegan version: In a small bowl, whisk ¼ cup cold milk with cornstarch until completely smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining 1 3/4 cups milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Once combined, stir in cornstarch mixture).

Pour milk mixture over the bread, toss to combine and let sit for 30 minutes.

Bake for about 35-45 minutes until golden brown and the liquid has set.

Recipe courtesy of Food Shift, an Alameda-based nonprofit developing practical solutions that reduce food waste, nourish the community, and provide jobs.

For more holiday leftovers recipes and tips to make the most of the food you love, visit, a project by Alameda County public agency StopWaste.

Each month, Alameda Backyard Growers offers Alameda Sun readers an article on topics like food growing, preservation or cooking, or sustainable gardening. This month, in honor of our favorite eating feast, we’ve asked our frequent collaborators at StopWaste to share ways to make the most of our food (and turn them into tasty treats) over the winter holidays. Your friends at ABG.