Every Christmas, British consumers throw away an estimated 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 5 million Christmas puddings.
This leads to £64 million wasted on uneaten Christmas food. Combined with all the other waste that is created over the holiday period, such as gift wrap and Christmas cards, it’s high time that we all start looking at all our holiday food waste, and how we can reduce it.
Tip 1: Use your freezer
There are so many different foods from a traditional Christmas dinner that will freeze well, if you know how to do it properly.
- Turkey – The main dish of the Christmas feast can freeze very well. You should remove the meat from the bones first, and it can be frozen for up to three months – just about when you’ll want to eat turkey again!
- Gravy – If your gravy is flour-based, then it can be frozen. You can spoon gravy into ice cube trays for small amounts in the future. Thaw frozen gravy in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it slowly in a saucepan
- Stuffing – Much like turkey, stuffing freezes very well for up to three months. Store it in small portions in an airtight container and reheat to add some holiday magic to a classic Sunday roast.
- Roast potatoes – Yes, you can freeze roasties! You can either store the spuds in one large resealable plastic bag or divide the leftovers into manageable portions using smaller resealable plastic bags.
Just make sure to date and label everything so you know what exactly you have in your freezer, and when it should be used by.
Tip 2: Plan ahead
We’ve talked before about the usefulness of food planning and making a shopping list, but it’s even more important to do this during the holidays. There are so many more opportunities for spontaneous purchases, and seemingly attractive Buy-One-Get-One-Free offers. You should take a hard look at these offers, and ask yourself:
- Is it actually a good deal?
- Do I really need extras of this particular ingredient or product?
- When will I actually eat this?
It’s also important to know how many people are going to be at the big feast. It’s tempting to cook as much as possible, but in reality you don’t need a 12 pound turkey if there are only four people eating. A good estimate for each person is 125g of potatoes, 80g of each vegetable and, if you eat turkey, about 250g.
Finally, it’s also vital to remember that although most supermarkets will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, this doesn’t mean that food needs to be hoarded!
Tip 3: Be creative
You don’t always have to have a traditional dinner. If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, then why buy them? Instead, you could just serve more carrots, or replace the sprouts with less controversial green veg such as Savoy cabbage. Furthermore, if you have vegetarians or vegans at your holiday feast, do you really need to make two versions of certain dishes? Vegan stuffing can be just as delicious as traditional stuffing, and by making just one dish, you won’t create holiday food waste, and also save time too. (The Edgy Veg has a great recipe for vegan stuffing.)
Finally, be more creative with your use of leftovers! While a turkey curry is a classic, there are lots of other ways that you can use up excess ingredients and reduce your holiday food waste. Some Saucy Dressings recipes include:
- Minty winter salad of peas, ham, and feta
- Chicken or turkey salad with avocado and dried berries
- Mince pies
- Brussels sprouts and mandarin winter salad
And if in doubt, you can also package up any leftovers to give to visiting relatives so that you aren’t left with half a turkey or 12 untouched bread rolls.