Food is central to Christmas festivities. In my household Christmas baking and preparing for Christmas lunch and dinner consume many days in the lead up to Christmas. Whilst food brings much joy and draws us closer together, when hosting Christmas events we tend to over-cater and cause an increase in food waste during the festive season.
Ozharvest estimates that we waste 20% of the food we purchase: this means one in five shopping bags will go in the bin this Christmas. Wasting food, not only wastes money but also squanders precious resources such as water and fuel used to grow and transport our food. Additionally, food waste degrades into methane under anaerobic landfill conditions and through fugitive emissions contributes to climate change. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates food loss and waste generates about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year. To put this into context, if food loss and waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
This Christmas let’s flip food waste on its head and let only bellies not bins be filled with delicious Christmas food. On Day 7, we look at strategies to prevent Christmas food waste through menu and portion planning, food storage strategies and recipes to relish left-overs.
Step 1: Menu planning
To fight food waste this Christmas the initial step is all about menu and portion planning. To resist those bargains and save money by only buying what you need – it is good to be armed with a strict shopping list and a full stomach when you hit the shops!
There are lots of apps and websites out there to help with meal planning which automatically generate shopping lists for you. Cherie Bobbins evaluates five of these meal planners in her blog, my favourite is yummly as it has a fantastic recipe range and also the ability to search according to ingredients. If you are still undecided on the menu for this Christmas meal, here are some suggestions for the Christmas ham, alternative Christmas dinners, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian options.
Beyond ingredients, portions matter for both our waist and waste management. Portion planning tools are a great way to Love Food Hate Waste. Save the food has a fun interactive portion guestimator to plan your holiday meal.
Check it out at: https://savethefood.com/guestimator
Love Food Hate Waste has also developed a great portion calculator. In this tool you detail the number of people you are cooking Christmas dinner for and your specific menu to save money at the supermarket from not buying more than you need. BBC also has some useful infographics for the traditional British Christmas Dinner.
Another useful technique to minimise food waste is to serve your Christmas dinner in a buffet–style allowing people to self-serve. This way your guests will pick and choose food-types and portions that suit them and there will be less food destined for the bin.
Step 2: Food Storage
Step 2 in fighting food waste is effective food storage. We all have limited fridge space to begin with, let alone in the lead up to Christmas. It is easy to get caught in the hustle and bustle and purchase food too early. In Australian summer’s nothing lasts long if not in the fridge, but also how we arrange the food determines how well it keeps in our fridges. Love Food Hate Waste has a fantastic guide to how best to store different food types, fully optimising your fridge space and preventing food from being wasted this Christmas. BBC Good Food has also written a great post specific to Christmas food storage.
To fully join in the festivities on Christmas Day instead of slaving away in the kitchen, Carol Wilson has some great suggestions for how to get ahead of Christmas this year and take advantage of your freezer :).
Step 3: Love your Leftovers
Our final step in our fight against food waste is relishing Christmas leftovers. I am a self-confessed over-caterer and there has never been a Christmas to-date without leftovers. Therefore, I’m excited to share with you some recipes that utilise your leftovers! This first one is by internet sensation Binging with Babish, who provides some creative ideas for a traditional turkey style dinner for American Thanksgiving celebrations:
Some other great digital resources include:
- Ozharvest has some great ‘Wasty Recipies’!
- Love Food Hate Waste has an amazing database for leftover recipes with search functionality so you can find recipes specific to the left over ingredients you have.
- Christmas leftover recipe collection ideas from traditional food magazines like Taste, BBC Good Food and Olive Magazine.
Below are three fantastic books that a dear friend recommended to me which have some delicious recipes and creative ways to reinvent leftovers:
Share with us!
Whilst today we have provided some food waste avoidance strategies, inevitably we all produce some food waste on Christmas Day. Food waste management is something at Reframe Waste we are truly passionate about and in an upcoming post we will detail different Christmas food waste management options. So stay tuned 🙂
We would love to hear from you and please feel free to share any of your personal food waste avoidance strategies 🙂