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Make the Most of Holiday Party Leftovers

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kim-kirchherr-ndcThe 2016 holiday season is here and for many Hoosiers that means plenty of celebratory meals and treats. There are ways to ensure the leftovers don’t contribute to the massive food waste in the U.S. and Vice President at the National Dairy Council Kim Kirchherr was at Purdue this month detailing her love of the freezer.

“I’m all about a freezer and making sure that we’re stocked, but also having things that are portion controlled,” she said. “Because from a dietician’s perspective, if you go to a party or you’ve got higher calorie, more decadent foods, portion control is everything but what do you do with the extra? If you freeze those in little treats, then even after the holidays are over you’re managing your portions, you’re managing your calories, you’re managing your food waste. And you’re managing those decadent treats and putting them hopefully more in the context of a balanced diet.”

USDA says an average family of four leaves 2 million calories uneaten each year. That’s worth $1,500. Kirchherr says Americans are getting better about shopping smarter and minimizing waste. But there is room for improvement.

“We have always as dieticians talked to people about managing their food budget, and I think what’s cool about that is it’s a win-win because if you’re a person grocery shopping you want to spend your money wisely, and you want to make sure that you’re using everything that you spend your money on. When you look at the bigger picture, if you’re managing your food budget, that means you’re not throwing out food, so you’re getting the nutrition, your family is getting the nutrition, and you’re not ending up with that food going to a landfill.”

The federal government’s dietary recommendations for three servings of dairy a day are not being met in average U.S. households, but Kirchherr told HAT there are plenty of on-the-go dairy products available that offer excellent nutritional benefits.

“I’ll start with protein because I feel like that’s on everybody’s mind and so many people don’t realize that milk, cheese and yogurt are great if you need protein,” she said. “We’re here in a college setting so I was talking to some of the college students. When you think about that, it’s a food-safe choice if you will, without having to cook it. And you can eat it on the run and walking to class. There’s nine essential nutrients in milk.”

She added milk and dairy are just great products when you combine the nutritional benefits with the calories consumed.