During the festive holidays we, as a rule, stop counting calories and treat ourselves to delicious food. But luckily, researchers don’t stop counting how much food is wasted at Christmas, to open our eyes to this problem. In the UK alone, 7 million tonnes of food is thrown away, while it’s estimated that in the USA 25% more food is wasted during the festive season. Do you want to help reduce such statistics? Wherever you are, try our tips to reduce your Christmas food waste this year!
Festive traditions differ between countries, regions, and families. And of course, there’s no need to cook traditional dishes if your family doesn’t like them. Take into account the dietary needs or preferences of your guests, and adapt meals accordingly. A large turkey, in a room where half your guests are vegetarians, will only go to waste.
Hosting a big family Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner can cause justifiable anxiety; everybody wants their guests to be full and happy. But often we start overbuying in a panic. That’s why we recommend planning not just what you buy but also how much. Use a food portion calculator to minimise your chances of waste. You’ll save not only food, but also time and money.
When the Christmas shopping list is written, don’t immediately rush to the supermarket. Look over your storage shelves beforehand; we bet you already have a few items, such as spices and herbs, at home. If you do buy something you already have, use the older product first, as it will expire sooner.
Buy loose produce rather than pre-packaged food. That way you’ll only purchase the amount you actually need. So you’ll waste less food, and of course save on packaging waste too. Bonus points if you take your reusable bags and containers with you to the store!
No matter whether it’s a secret family recipe for cooking brussel sprouts, or a well-known food blogger's recipe, stick to it. Especially if the rest of the year your cooking skills are normally restricted to heating up a frozen pizza! If you follow a recipe, you know that at least one person on Earth has already successfully made a delicious dish using this method. It means less chance of disaster, resulting in you having to cook another dish in a hurry (which would of course mean buying more food).
Cooking for a crowd can be overwhelming, so it’s totally OK to ask your guests to bring a dish with them. But give them instructions on what they should bring to avoid duplications. And if you’re sure you can handle everything on your own, ask your guests not to bring anything.
We firmly believe you can have a minimum waste Christmas table. But unfortunately, unless you can predict the future(!), having zero festive leftovers is a fiction. That’s why we advise you to check out these quick and tasty leftovers recipes to use up the remaining food.
Did you cook too much? Did a guest not turn up? Were you too busy with festive fun to taste all the dishes? Your freezer will take care of your leftovers until you're ready to eat them all! You can only store cooked food in a fridge for a couple of days. But it can be kept fresh from 1 month to 1 year in a freezer; check this chart for storage recommendations. And don’t forget to organise your freezer in advance to make sure there’s enough room.
The magical winter holidays are the perfect time to both support people in need and protect the environment. If you have leftovers that are not likely to get eaten at your place, try to:
And one final tip! If you’ve done your best, but there is still waste food after Christmas—don’t just bin it; compost it. The planet will thank you for it—as at least then the land will get the extra nutrition, even if you can’t. Happy holidays, and bon appetit!