by Chitra Esther Chelladurai
The holiday season seems to go by pretty quickly preparing for one after another. With all the planning, cooking, and cleaning, the last thing you want to think about is how to save mother earth in the process of it, right? With Thanksgiving coming up this is the perfect time to reflect and reassess your holiday preparations!
For most families, tradition sets the precedent for future Thanksgiving meals and a simple phone call, email, text, or even a hand-letter invitation on recycled paper can easily confirm the details. Whatever mode of communication you choose, it’s will be a much better way of making sure if any of your guests have special food needs. For example, if they are vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, or even have food allergies. Simple questions like these asked at least two weeks ahead of time can save you a world of last-minute headaches.
A traditional Thanksgiving meal usually includes a main course, four sides, and dessert. While some families add soup at the start and salad at the end (or vice versa), the main course is turkey. It can translate to poached or grilled whole salmon for a pescetarian, or tofurky or vegetarian casserole for vegans and vegetarians—you can check The Veggie Table for more vegetarian/vegan ideas.
As you write down your selections, make a shopping list (at least two weeks ahead of time), separating it into items you can shop for in advance, and those you need to buy the day before. When going shopping for your staples and non-perishable items, take this opportunity to hit up your local famer’s market for organic, locally sources produce. If you want a heritage and/or organic turkey, make sure you get your order in before they sell out! A previous article on this site detailed where to purchase heritage turkeys from local farms as well as other tips to keep Thanksgiving green.
Typically, many clean and decorate the house the day before while either you’re the one doing it or someone else is. Either way, make sure to use non-toxic cleaners like Method, a favorite of mine, when doing so. Some homemade tips for cleaning the sink or tub is to mix up some baking soda and water—here’s the recipe for it courtesy of Planet Green. If you’re cleaning windows, try vinegar and newspaper.
Now for the fun part—decorating! While decorating your home with the traditional wreath, try buying the one made from the living. It’ll bring a nice, vibrant holiday color to your home along with the evergreen scent. Make your table arrangements from either organic flowers or collect some from your yard while adding herbs like rosemary and lavender to make fragrant bouquets. If you have kids coming to your party, you can have them set your table and your candles.
Around one to four days before the big day is the time to shop for perishables and pick up your turkey. Veggies, breads, and other perishables should be picked up from your local farmer’s market. This will help you in prepping beforehand. If you’re making stuffing, pre-mix it. Mashing potatoes? Skin and quarter them and leave them in a tub of cool water overnight. The turkey can be brined or peppered with basic seasonings like olive oil, salt and pepper and left in the fridge until the next morning. Even pies can be baked and set on a shelf. The more you get done the day before, the less you’ll have to worry about on the big day. Make sure to sit down with a pencil and paper and plot out your finish times do that you know when your dishes need to go into the oven in order to come out at a relatively the same time.
Last but not least, disposing the leftovers! Try to compost your leftover Thanksgiving meal scraps. Even if you don’t compost, you can separate the green scrapes from the rest and toss them in your leaf bin. Lastly, you’re recycling your plastic bottles and aluminum cans, right? To see a detailed list of this guide, please visit Planet Green.
Have a happy green thanksgiving everyone!
Image courtesy of LocalHarvest.com.