We may be about to embark on the most wonderful time of the year when we all kick back and enjoy indulging in delicious food and drink but unfortunately as well as wonderful it is also the most wasteful in terms of the amount of food that is bought, cooked and ultimately thrown away.
An article on Zero Waste Week shows frightening statistics about how much hits the food waste bin each festive season - apparently the equivalent to over four million Christmas dinners!
Christmas is a costly time for consumers so think twice before over-purchasing and over-portioning which will undoubtedly lead to over-filling your bin.
So, let’s get to it - what can we do to minimise wasting food this Christmas?
Planning is key to reducing food waste - plan your festive menu from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and beyond if you have guests staying with you for longer. Plan the individual meals and then write a shopping list and buy only what’s on the list, rather than shopping impulsively. So really think, if you are cooking for eight people - four sprouts each - means you buy 32 sprouts! This not only reduces food waste but saves you money.
If you feel the need to ‘buy just in case’ make sure they are items with a long shelf life or products that can be frozen to use long after the fairy lights and baubles have been packed away and the last of the pine needles hoovered up!
Although not directly related to waste but certainly to sustainability - think about where you are going to shop, it is easy to do a one stop shop at the supermarket but consider making more of an outing of it by buying fresh local produce from local butchers, greengrocers and farm shops, stopping for a coffee and mince pie along the way.
After Christmas lunch there is sure to be vegetable leftovers - make into a delicious soup for lunch on Boxing Day - perfect after a chilly Boxing Day morning walk! Simply blend together, add stock and herbs before warming on the stove and maybe add a little cream or crème fraiche before serving. Top with any stuffing balls left from the main event to make an even heartier meal!
Take any meat that is left from Christmas lunch and make into a curry, serve with rice and naan bread as a change from pots and veg!
Alternatively, for something different try this Turkey, Brie and Cranberry Pastry Roll from Beech Ridge Farm
When you are finished with the turkey, remember to boil up the bones to make stock which can be used straightaway or frozen to use later.
It’s not just savoury food that may be leftover - there will undoubtedly be a portion or two of Christmas pud and perhaps a chunk of Christmas cake - and after all there's only so much cake one can eat!
So you could try this; blitz the leftovers in a blender (minus the marzipan and icing - unless you like things super sweet!) and use to make a tasty filler to filo or puff pastry to make a strudel type pud.
Alternatively for a cool dessert, blitz your pudding/cake bits in a blender with custard and cream and a little sugar and tip into a basin and freeze overnight. Before eating transfer to the fridge for 10/15 minutes before carefully tipping out onto a plate to serve. If you prefer a recipe this one is very similar. This makes a nice sweet treat for New Years Eve!
Finally, if you have hosted and have a lot of leftovers, encourage friends and family to take some home - with this in mind make sure you have plenty of reusable pots to hand, or even ask them to bring their own. Or, package up some leftover goodies and take them to a friend or neighbour who may benefit from some home cooked food.
Most of all have a very enjoyable festive period - eat, drink and be merry but remember to use leftovers and minimise waste!
Caroline Bowen-Thomas is a freelance copywriter and proofreader based in Frome. She's the creator behind Frome With a View, an Instagram account that celebrates all things fun to see and do in and around 30 minutes of the town of Frome in Somerset.