‘Tis the season to be … wasteful?

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, household waste in the U.S. increases by more than 25 percent. Greeting cards, wrapping paper and decorations all contribute to the 1 million extra tons to landfills.

That also includes food, which is already wasted at insurmountable levels in the U.S. year-round. The holiday season is no exception, with an average of 5 million more pounds of food wasted during that time.

So before you over-purchase and over-prepare this holiday season, consider these tips on how to reduce food waste.

5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste During the Holidays

Tip #1: Plan Ahead and Buy Less

Whether you’re hosting Christmas dinner or a New Year’s Eve extravaganza, it’s best to plan ahead. Don’t plan too far ahead, though, or you could end up with spoilage. Give yourself a few days. Determine how many guests you’re expecting and plan your meal accordingly. Take some time to come up with a grocery list. This will reduce the risk of impulse purchases and help with preventing food waste.

Kathryn Kellogg“We always seem to have an exorbitant amount of leftovers around the holiday season. Strike one to two sides from your meal plan or pretend that 20 percent fewer people are coming over. If you’re cooking for six, pretend you’re cooking for four.”

Kathryn Kellogg I Going Zero Waste

Tip #2: Get Scrappy

As tempting as it may be to toss food scraps into the trash, toss them into a compost bin instead. A compost bin is an outdoor container that produces compost from garden refuse and other organic waste.

Elise Bauer“I set up a ‘dump bowl’ next to my prep area when I am cooking. Anything compostable goes into that bowl – coffee grounds and spent coffee filters, banana peels, cabbage cores, orange peels, onion skins … When the bowl fills up, I take it to my compost bin.”

Elise Bauer I Simply Recipes

Freeze Leftovers

Freezing leftovers make for great pre-made meals for those nights you don’t feel like cooking or are simply pressed for time.

Tip #3: Freeze Leftovers

Want to know how to save food? Leftovers is a start. The holidays have a knack for producing plenty of leftovers, and instead of throwing them away, freeze them. Store all that leftover ham, turkey and other holiday staples in Tupperware.

Tip #4: Create New Meals

Speaking of leftovers, make the most of them. Rather than eating turkey and ham for three straight days, create new meals from those leftovers. Try making a turkey pot pie or a creamy ham casserole. There’s plenty of leftover ideas on the web if you need any inspiration. Get creative!

Tip #5: Spread the Love

It’s better to give than to receive. After all, it’s the Season of Giving. Encourage family and friends to take leftovers home or donate to a local food bank or shelter. This includes any canned food or dried goods that you didn’t use or won’t use. It makes much more sense to donate excess food to those that could use it rather than having food sit in your pantry, or worse, thrown out.

Kathryn Kellogg“There are a lot of hungry people that would love to have your leftovers. See if you have a community fridge in your area or look for local charities that help deliver hot meals. Or just walk around your downtown. Living in the Bay Area there are plenty of hungry people on the streets. Why not try and brighten their day?

Kathryn Kellogg I Going Zero Waste

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Don’t let food waste ruin it. Check out some more tips on how to stop food waste and let us know of any others in the comments section below.