The end of the year is often spent enjoying quality time together with our friends and family
Such occasions typically involve a special meal and a glass or two of our favourite tipple. While we enjoy indulging, it’s important we don’t get wrapped up in all the holiday cheer and end up needlessly wasting gifts, food and drink
It’s easy to do. Christmas food waste is a common problem. We buy heaps of everything from the snacks to the main event. A lot of which is excessive and we end up still eating it in January. If it’s perishable, it could well end up in the bin.
Stylish adverts convince us we need prosecco flavour crisps and Santa shaped chocolates. Too good to be true supermarket deals entice us to buy three packs of mince pies, not one.
Aside from the effects on our waistbands, imagine the impact on the planet?
Christmas Spending on the Rise
That’s an awful lot of money to spend on what is essentially one day.
Whether you pick up a bargain or pile on the luxury for the holiday season, the facts are hard to ignore. Too much food is wasted and the festive season is no exception; in fact, at this time of giving, it’s even more prevalent.
The Shocking Reality of Christmas Food Waste
Over shopping, cooking more food than is required and not making good use of leftover food means food waste at Christmas is a huge issue.
In the UK we waste 5 million Christmas puddings, 2 million turkeys, and 74 million mince pies each year. Not to mention huge amounts of vegetables, fruit and snacks.
We’re not alone in thinking this is shocking.
The Big Issue estimate that the UK throws away 270,000 tonnes of food each year. A disproportionate amount of this is at Christmas time.
When we consider the people and families that need to use food banks in the UK, this figure feels criminal. 1.6 million food parcels were given out by the Trussell Trust in the year to March 2019.
That’s a massive 19% increase on the previous year!
So we all need to be doing all we can to reduce food waste and think about how we could shop more mindfully. Especially at Christmas, when we should be more ashamed to throw away excess food.
Campaigns run by food charities such as Love Food Hate Waste have loads of tips. They encourage us to ensure we don’t waste food unnecessarily over the holiday period and make the best of any leftover food.
Here are our tips on reducing Christmas food waste.
Keeping Your Food Waste to a Minimum
Here’s a few tips to help you survive the Christmas period waste free:
Plan in advance
If you’re hosting, take an hour or so to plan everything well in advance. This means everything from snacks and starters to the turkey and beyond.
Hopefully you’ll know how many you have coming to dinner. Plan the size of the turkey, how many potatoes you’ll need and what vegetables you’re having.
Where you can, buy vegetables loose. Huge bags of potatoes and other fresh produce might appear cheaper, but you might be buying food you don’t need.
Fill your own bags with the amount you truly need.
Take your leftovers home
If you’re planning on eating out at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask for a doggy bag!
Better still, bring your own container to carry your leftovers home in.
Avoid Unnecessary Deals
Don’t be tempted by supermarket deals you don’t need. If your favourite mince pies are on a two for one deal and you know you won’t eat them all, donate the extra pack to a food collection service.
Keep Guests Informed
Tell all your guests in advance if they need to bring anything. If you have it all covered, ask that they don’t bring extras. Well meaning and generous guests may go overboard, adding to the problem of Christmas food waste.
If they want to help, ask them to donate. If you’re a guest, check with your host what they need each of you to bring so you don’t duplicate.
Plan Your Storage
Storage is everything. Store your meat safely, ideally in an uncluttered fridge. Potatoes can survive in a dark cupboard. Most other veg can stay in the fridge crisper drawers for up to a week before cooking.
Fruit looks good arranged in a festive fruit bowl, but unless it’s eaten within a few days, it will spoil. Keep some aside in the fridge and keep topping up your bowl.
Take advantage of the cold weather
If you’re out of fridge space, consider using outside. If it’s cold enough, uncooked hardy veg such as carrots and parsnips can be kept in cold outbuildings and stay fresh.
Run down your freezer
Start to free up space in your freezer now. Leftover meat, vegetables and even cakes freeze well for use at another time.
Become a leftovers champion!
Leftover Christmas turkey and leftover Christmas vegetables can be turned into amazing new meals. Perfect if you have guests staying longer than a day. Or you’re too tired to make new meals from scratch.
Meals made using leftovers also make ideal lunches. These are great if you’re unfortunate enough to be working during those awkward days between Christmas and new year.
Compost Your Scraps
For the unavoidable scraps, composting food waste at home can be fun and very satisfying! Or make use of council food waste collections.
Combatting Christmas Food Waste Whilst Still Having Fun
Don’t worry that your Christmas now needs to be run like a zero waste military operation. With some careful planning and mindful shopping, you can still have fun.
Your Christmas minus the waste will feel even more giving and in the true spirit.
Do you have any tips for combatting festive food waste? We’d love to hear them and share them with our community.