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How to Reduce Food Waste at Your Shabbat Meal

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Preparing food for a large Shabbat dinner can be hard. Making sure that everyone has enough to eat while managing eating restrictions and food preferences can result in a lot of extra food. While you may try and save the food to eat as leftovers the rest of the week, having the same meal over and over to try to finish off the leftovers can be boring, so sometimes food ends up in the trash. Not to mention the food left on everyone’s plate that goes straight to the trash or scraps from cooking that are never even considered.  

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Roughly one third of food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted each year. From the field, to packaging, to retail, to your own kitchen table, food is wasted at every step. In developed countries, the largest share of food loss and waste occurs at the consumer level. After the resources, energy, and money has gone into producing this food–the water and land it took to grow it, the plastic to package it, the gas to transport it, and the money from your own pocket to buy the final product on the grocery store shelf–the environmental and financial impact of your Shabbat dinner leftovers getting tossed in the trash can be much more than you may initially realize.  

Here are some tips to reduce food waste before, during and after your next Shabbat dinner. These small steps can make a big change when it comes to food waste and saving money!

Before Meal

  • Plan how much food you actually need. Be realistic about how much people will actually eat and don’t succumb to the fear of not having enough food. Even if you don’t have 5 Tupperware containers full of leftovers, your guests are not going to go home hungry. 
  • When you go to the store to pick up ingredients, bring a shopping list. This can help prevent you from buying ingredients you don’t need or over overestimating just how much of each ingredient you should get. 
  • While you’re cooking, save vegetable scraps in a Ziploc bag and keep them in the freezer to use for a vegetable stock!

During Meal

  • Use smaller plates. Studies show that when given smaller plates people will take smaller portions, so they’ll be more likely to finish what’s on their plate. They can always go back for more if they’re still hungry, but this can help to reduce plate waste. 
  • Serve food self-serve/buffet style. Letting people serve their own food will allow them to decide how much they can actually eat. 

After Meal

  • Store leftovers quickly and safely. Don’t let food sit out too long after the meal and make sure to store food in Tupperware containers that are easy to grab for leftovers. 
  • Freeze leftovers if you know you won’t get to eating them over the next few days. Most food can be safely frozen in an airtight Tupperware container, and then just defrost for an easy meal when you need it.
  • Use leftovers in to make new recipes the next day. Make a delicious Challah French Toast the next morning with leftover Challah before it gets stale!

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