How to Create Sustainable Holidays to Please Everyone
When you start to talk about the holiday season like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. It can become overwhelming. Once you start to incorporate sustainable holidays and eco-friendly recipes into the chat, things get even more stressful. Often time, these conversations revolve around taking out key pieces to the holidays to create a more Earth friendly season like no meat meals. When you consider everyone's preferences, this might not sound like the most appealing menu for the holiday season. There is a perfect balance between managing normal expectations and creating an eco-friendly celebration.
Imagine the scale with two things on each side. In a perfect world the scale is balanced 50/50, but we are talking about managing people’s expectations which is not always going to be 50/50. To create the perfect sustainable holiday celebration, there must be some sacrifices being made. Before you begin your preparation leading up to cooking eco-friendly recipes, have plain conversations with your guest and yourself about what you must have and what can be sacrificed. When you manage expectations, you can create the best possible sustainable holiday celebrations everyone will love.
What are Eco-friendly Recipes
When you look up the definition of a sustainable recipe, the definition may not resonate with you. As we talk about sustainability, it looks different for everyone even when we talk about sustainability in regard to food. You may want to create a fully plant-based menu or only shop for local ingredients. There are many options to help create a more conscious holiday. We’ll break it down into a few ways that may help inspire your conscious holiday recipes.
Create a More Plant-Based Menu
If you are looking to just dabble into more eco-friendly recipes and a conscious holiday, start by changing the way you look at your menu for the day. Often, we present the meat options as the main dish of the day with the vegetables being the supporting actors. Vegetables are more than capable of being the lead role and are going to help reduce your carbon emissions. Vegetarian Society or vegsoc.org lets us know just eating a vegetarian diet for one year saves the same number of emissions as a small family not driving for only 6 months. It is easy to see how upping your intake of vegetables will decrease your carbon emissions.
How to Celebrate Thanksgiving without a Turkey
Thanksgiving without turkey? Yes, it’s possible. To create a satisfying holiday for those who think they might miss the turkey, you must create a recipe that will fulfill the same cravings. Some of our favorite options that are even easier than cooking a turkey are a fake meat alternative. During the holiday season it is easy to find fake meat alternatives made specifically for Thanksgiving like a faux turducken. If you don’t want to go so exotic with your food choices, try to create the same umami flavoring with rich ingredients like mushrooms.
Shopping Local and In Season Produce During the Holidays
Farmer’s markets aren’t as abundant during the holiday months so creating recipes using local produce may seem a little far off. If you are lucky enough to live in a climate where farmer’s markets happen year-round, take advantage the week before to stock up on local produce. Talk to the farmers, see what is producing in abundance and base your holiday meal off of those recommendations.
If you are like me, you live in the Midwest and farmer’s markets end around the beginning of November. Instead of shopping at the farmer’s markets there are still ways to support local farmers and shop for local produce.
The first way is to find local farms that sell outside of the farmer's market. I’d recommend giving them a call, seeing what they have available and placing an order in advance if possible. This is also a great way to source your turkey (if the faux turducken doesn’t tickle your fancy). If you aren’t able to find local farms to buy from, your local grocery store will work just as well. Find what is in season at the moment. According to Culinary Hill, around November you’ll find winter squash, root vegetables, brussels sprouts and beets to be in season, plus many more options!
Managing Food Waste After Your Conscious Celebration
It is inevitable you are going to end up with some sort of leftover food after your holiday celebration. Before you accept you are going to have leftovers, press on your family to get a solid head count for the day of and how many people will be eating. It is important to do the best you can beforehand to cook the proper amount of food to minimize waste as much as possible.
When the holiday ends and you end up with leftovers, don’t let them go to waste. There are many different options. Some food banks will take certain leftovers. I recommend doing research into what they accept beforehand. One of my favorite things to do with leftovers besides pawning them off onto the college kids who will take them home and eat them for the next week, is to make new recipes. This is a great time to challenge yourself in the kitchen, get creative and create even more eco-friendly recipes.