Christmas is a time for giving, and sadly also a time when a lot of food is wasted. The good news is that you can take simple steps to manage your food during the festive season that will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.
To help you get in the spirit of a green Christmas, here are some simple tips to reduce your food waste that won’t take from your Christmas cheer.
1. Planning your Christmas menu – it’s never too late to start
Think back to last Christmas and try to pinpoint what types of food were unused and thrown out. Was it something you and your loved ones really didn’t like, such as Brussels sprouts? Perhaps you stocked up on too many basics like milk and bread, or just bought in too large a quantity?
This year, whether you are having a small or large festive gathering, plan how much food you will need for the number of people joining you. Have faith you don’t need to go overboard and buy extra 'just in case’.
Make new traditions by not buying food that nobody really likes or won’t have room for, and remember supermarkets and local shops will re-open in just two days!
2. Stick to your Christmas shopping list – only buy what you need
A gift to yourself (saving energy, money, and stress) is to write your food shopping list before you leave the house. Check what items you already have in your cupboards and freezer, so you only buy the food you need.
Then the hardest part, stick to your Christmas food list. Don’t be tempted by the ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ or other special offers, they are not a good deal unless eaten. Make sure the ‘use by’ dates on perishable food such as dairy and meat will still be good when you plan to eat them.
3. Store your Christmas food properly – make the most of it
So, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas with your decorations up and Christmas shopping done. Storing food properly will help it last longer. For example, keeping fruit like bananas and nectarines in the fruit bowl will cause the other fruit to ripen quicker, so keep them apart.
Fridge and freezer space might be tight so before Christmas try to use up what’s already there. Serve and eat the more perishable foods first and then bring out the longer life food – when the prawn ring runs out, bring out the cheese and crackers! Remember that freezing your Christmas food, either before or after cooking, is like a pause button - it adds weeks or even months, from bread and cream to veg and even wine.
4. Cooking enough Christmas fare – give family-style serving a go
Resist cooking too much over Christmas by anticipating how much your family and guests will actually want to eat. Try an online portion size calculator to help you estimate the portions you need to cook. For example, it is recommended that you need 450-600 grams of turkey (on the bone) per person.
Rather than plating individual meals, allow everyone to serve themselves from large serving dishes. We’re more inclined to save leftovers from a serving dish than from someone’s plate. So, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and save your leftovers for another meal, instead of being scraped off plates into the bin.
5. Amazing festive leftovers – can save you time and money
Leftovers are delicious ingredients for your next meal and - for most of us - leftovers are the main staple on St. Stephen’s Day, or what can be thought of as ‘National Leftovers Day’! Once cooled, place leftovers in reusable, resealable tubs in the fridge, to be eaten and not forgotten!
Leftovers are the no stress, minimal cooking food that makes it easy for you to invite family and friends around during Christmas time. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year so look up leftover recipes like the reliable turkey curry and get creative!
Why not try these easy tips this Christmas and make a New Year’s resolution to continue planning your meals and portions, only buying food you need and storing it properly, reusing leftovers and freezing food for another time.
We wish you A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Let's hope it’s a good one without any fear … of festive food waste!
The EPA’s Stop Food Waste programme is the national food waste prevention campaign, providing guidance and resources to help you reduce your food waste.