The holiday season is a time for making new memories, sharing meals with family and friends, and being grateful for all we have. But after you've enjoyed your holiday meals with family, why not pay it forward with a leftover food donation? Or find a new purpose for your unused ingredients? Both are great ways to count your blessings and spread some holiday cheer this season.
Where Can I Donate Leftover Food?
Local food pantries, food banks, and shelters need food and household items throughout the year. Your leftover food donation can help to support their mission. That said, every organization has different needs. Often, they need cereals, kid snack items, diapers, toilet paper, toiletries, and canned and jarred foods.
Here are a handful of classic ingredients that might be unused and ready to donate after your holiday meal:
- Canned vegetables
- Baking mixes
- Dried pasta
- Canned sauces
- Bags of potatoes
- Cooking spices and oils
Some shelters accept prepared foods as well. Once you decide what organization you plan to donate to, call ahead to ask about their donation policy.
Share Your Bounty with a Neighbor
There are plenty of people who can benefit from holiday leftovers, possibly someone you already know. Maybe a neighbor has company in town and extra people to feed or you know someone who is working extra hours and is too busy to cook. Or, if you know someone with a hobby farm, their animals might be thankful for a treat!
If you are hosting a holiday meal, consider asking guests to bring their own reusable containers and send everyone home with a to-go meal. Or, keep some mason jars on hand to give away leftovers. If you'd like, you can even tape an index card with a recipe for one of your dishes on the jars. Then, your friends and family can make the dish at their next gathering.
Give Leftovers a New Life
Remember that much of your kitchen waste can be composted, too. So, if you are peeling apples for a pie or potatoes for a casserole, those peels can thrive in a compost pile. The same goes for any coffee grounds or tea bags that you prepared along with dessert!
If you aren't familiar with composting, here's a quick overview. Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. When setting up your compost, it's optimal to mix three types of materials: green waste (fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings), brown waste (dead leaves and branches), and water (which is needed for compost to develop).
Dropping off scraps at a composting location or finding a spot in your yard to set up a compost bin could even be a fun activity to do with family and friends as part of your holiday festivities. Then, you'll know that your dinner and celebration is fortifying the earth for next year's garden and meals.
Do you have any tips for donating leftovers? Or creative ways to repurpose them during the holiday season? Show us by tagging @toms_of_maine on your Instagram photo!
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Why It's Good
This holiday season, give leftover holiday foods a new life by donating ingredients or creating another purpose for them. Giving back after bringing friends and family together for a meal is a great way to pay your gratitude forward.