A good way to reduce your food waste and costs over the Christmas period is to simply plan ahead with your Christmas menu.
Think back to last Christmas and try to pinpoint what types of food were unused and thrown out. Perhaps it was food you or your family really didn’t like such as Brussels sprouts? Maybe 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.
Stick to your Christmas shopping list: Write your Christmas food shopping list before you leave the house. Check what items you already have in your cupboards and freezer, so you only buy 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.
Store your Christmas food properly: Storing food properly will help it last longer. Serve and eat the more perishable foods first and then bring out the longer life food. Fridge and freezer space might be tight so before Christmas try to use up what’s already there. 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.
Cooking enough Christmas fare: 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. Save your leftovers for another dinner, instead of scraping off plates into the bin. By allowing everyone to serve themselves from large serving dishes, instead of plating individual meals, we are more inclined to save leftovers.
Remember to use Christmas leftovers: Leftovers are delicious ingredients for your next snack or dinner. Once cooled, store leftovers in reusable, resealable tubs in the fridge, to be eaten and not forgotten! As well as saving you money, leftovers are the no-stress dinner that makes it easy for you to invite family and friends around during Christmas time.
A recent survey by the EPA found that 72% of people identified cold meats as their number one leftover at Christmas. Most people surveyed prefer making sandwiches (65%) with their leftover turkey and ham after Christmas, while only 25% of those surveyed make the fabled leftover turkey curry!
For ideas on how to make the most of leftovers check out our ‘12 Days of Christmas Recipes’ and ‘Luscious Leftovers’ booklets on www.stopfoodwaste.ie.