Ah, Thanksgiving. That twenty-four hour window in which binge eating and excessive napping is socially acceptable and often encouraged. We don’t hate it. But more than that, Turkey Day is a time to reflect on what we’re grateful, including the health of our families and the miracle that is Mother Nature. This Thanksgiving, employ these simple strategies to plan a mindful Thanksgiving meal.
Shop local…. for your turkey. Pack up the kids and head to the nearest farm. It’s a fun field trip that’ll give you children a chance to learn about where their food comes from and it also helps support your local community. Plus, you can see for yourself that the turkey was raised humanely (local farms often sell pasture-raised or heritage turkeys, which are a traditional breed of turkeys that fly, live and reproduce naturally – unlike conventional T’Giving birds). Not sure where to find a location? Find one on the Eat Well Guide.
Or, let the turkey live. Consider establishing a new tradition that doesn’t include the bird. Lots of folks are reinventing Thanksgiving by serving plant-based meals. Not only will you bypass the effort
and prep time associated with cooking a turkey, but it can also be a fun way to exercise your creativity in the kitchen. Meatless options can be just as filling and hearty. Here are a few of our favorites.
Eat local and in season. Not only is local, in season produce typically less expensive (reduced shipping costs), it’s also more nutritious since it’s traveling straight from the farm to your grocery bag. Veggies like beets, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes are at their peak. Swing by the farmer’s market and pick out new ones to try. As a bonus, kids are typically more willing to try new vegetables if they get to pick them out.
Stick to fresh or frozen, and ditch the can. According to the Breast Cancer Fund, food packaging is the #1 source of BPA exposure. Instead of the eerily cylindrical can of cranberry sauce, whip up your own using fresh or frozen cranberries. You’ll be cutting calories and artificial ingredients too. If you buy frozen, be sure to microwave them in a glass bowl instead of plastic.
Ditch the disposables. With a full house of rambunctious children, you may hesitate to use your fine china and cloth napkins, but it can be a special experience the kids can enjoy. It’s a perfect time to teach table manners, plus it keeps plastic silverware and napkins from ending up in the trash. Opt for washable, reusable cloth kitchen towels when it comes time for cleaning up.
Get your booze from nearby. Many local wineries and breweries offer refillable glass bottles. It’s often less expensive than the grocery store, and makes a great conversation starter with friends and family who are curious about conscious consumerism! Since the bottles can be returned to the brewery, sterilized, and reused, it’s a greener solution than single-use packaging. Plus, you’ll bypass the BPA found in aluminum cans.
Make your food multi-purpose. Although the Target Dollar Spot can be an enticing stop on your shopping outing, making your own decorations is a great way to cut down on the waste from petroleum-based decorations, disposables, and batteries. Seasonal produce like apples, cranberries, and winter squash make a beautiful, edible tablescape.
Freeze your leftovers. The average family throws out $2,200 worth of food every year — that could buy a lot of pumpkin pie. What to do with all those leftovers? Foods like turkey, gravy, squash, and stuffing freeze well, and are perfect to pull out for a last-minute weeknight meal. Eat them within 2-3 months for optimal flavor.