Calculate how many pounds of food you need to cook.  If you’re having 10 people for dinner and 10 dishes, don’t try to have enough food for everyone to have the same serving of everything.  That would be 100 servings! Twice as much as the 5 that will already leave your stomach full to capacity.  It’s too much food which is why you end up with plenty of leftovers, no refrigerator space and a pitifully excessive amount of food being thrown away. Limit # of dinner dishes to less than 10, and no more than 3 deserts.

Magic Food Cooking Optimization Question—
How many pounds of food do I need to make to feed my guests?h8

Starting with this mindset will totally bring you into alignment with zero-waste cooking. We have missed the obvious.  Instead of starting with what to cook, begin by asking what quantity to cook, and then plan the menu accordingly.  Mind-blowingly effective!

Let’s say you will have 10 people for dinner.  You need 20 lbs of food to stuff everyone to capacity at 2 lbs of food per person.  If you want leftovers for next day, or to send plates home with guests, add a couple of lbs, but not much more.  Remember, this 2lbs will leave your guests stuffed already.

How much should my turkey weigh?  Approximately 40% of the Turkey’s weight is edible after removing bones and innards.  So for 10 people to have one 6oz serving you need 60oz or 5 lbs of meat, and a 12.5 lbs (5 divided by 40%) turkey will accommodate your guests.  If you have another meats, remember you don’t have to overdo it with the turkey.  Examine the weight of this traditional dinner below.
1.    Turkey                            10 x 6oz= 60 oz or 5 lbs for 1 day
2.    Bread Dressing               1 pan=2 lbs
3.    Ham                                10 x 60oz=60 oz or 5 lbsO
4.    Sweet Potatoes               1 pan=2 lbs
5.    Mashed Potatoes            1 pan=2 lbs
6.    Greens                             1 pot=5 lbs
7.    Salad                                1 Bowl= 2 lbs
8.    Macaroni & Cheese          1 pan=2 lbs
9.    Gravy/Cranberry Sauce    1 of each= 2 lbs
10.    Guest or Special Dish     1 pan=2 lbs
11.    Pie                                   1 lb
12.    Cake                                2 lbs
13.    Tub of Ice Cream             2 lbs

You end up with a whopping 34 lbs of food vs 20 lbs needed.  After you send guests home with about 5 pounds, and stuff your refrigerator with 5 pounds you probably throw away about 5 lbs by Sunday.  Doesn’t that seem about right?  Let’s eliminate at least the 5 lbs that gets thrown away, and plan accordingly.  There are two easy ways to do this.
1.    Limit variety of dishes.  This may seem sacrosanct for the holidays, so consider replacing heavy white and beige dishes, with lower weight and lower filling foods of green vegetable dishes.
2.    Reduce the pan size to half pan sizes.  Seems like there is almost always extra mac n cheese.  Cut that in half please.  People say you can’t make a smaller dish because the recipe is for 6-8 or something.  I say hogwash.  Just like you can double a recipe for bigger parties, you can half it.  Its really not rocket science.  You just have to open your mind to the possible and obvious.

How to Make the Meal Planning Less Stressful

Limit variety of dishes.  People want to try every dish, but are fine with whatever is in front of them.  Take control of your dinner table.  Each dish requires its own workflow which is often overwhelming.  The more dishes you have, the more ingredients to buy, the longer the list, the more chance at forgetting and multiple trips back to store.  A simple menu can still be delicious.

Focus on the Reason for the Season.  Announce that this Thanksgiving and holiday season is about gratitude and thankfulness and recognize the food as a “nice to have.”  Be thankful for health and wellness, love and family.  Infuse these vital elements above everything else into the gathering with an attitude of gratitude.

These tips are for everyday, not just the holidays.  By focusing on your own health and wellness and eliminating waste helps feed others, saves the planet, spreads love and makes the world a better place.

I am thankful for you.

Love & Light,

What is your wellness goal this holiday season? Let us know here!