Christmas is a time for festivities. A season where people gather together to eat, share gifts and be amongst loved ones and family members. Amongst this festive folly, tonnes of wasted food is being thrown away.
During the Christmas period, people are often persuaded to buy huge roast turkeys and chickens, big bags of vegetables and boxes of mince pies usually based on social pressures from glossy TV magazines depicting what a 'real' Christmas should look like, and advertisements from supermarkets flooding the high streets with families around a table full of glorious food with all the trimmings.
In the UK, we throw away the equivalent of 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings, and a staggering 74 million mince pies, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign run by the Waste Resource Action Programme known as WRAP.
This could all be avoided with some helpful Christmas tips. Being aware of these tips could save you money and help you have a waste-free Christmas this year.
Make a guests list
If you are expecting a lot of people for Christmas dinner, make a rough list of the people who will be attending. This way, you can have a rough guide to how much food you will realistically need to purchase.
Use smaller plates
Be aware of the size of your plates. People often fill their plate with more food than they are going to consume.
12-inch dinner plates are becoming the norm in many UK households, coming from a 10-inch plate almost a decade ago. Reducing your plate size to a 9-inch plate allows less food for you to pile on your plate, giving better portion sizes per person.
In addition, smaller plate sizes will allow smaller portions of food, giving the impression you have more on your plate when you really have less.
Have a shopping list
Have a shopping list with you so you can buy the essentials. This shopping list could be a piece of paper or notes on your mobile phone
Stick to your list
It's easy to be tempted when you're shopping, so make a list and try stick to it. If you find yourself getting distracted, ask yourself whether you really need it.
Look at the storage dates
All items of food have a "Best Before" and a "Use By" date which is very important.
Best Before dates refer to quality, not safety. The food typically begins to gradually lose its flavour and texture after that date.
Use By dates refers to safety. Don't use any food or drink after the end of the "Use By" date on the label, even if it appears to be fine. This carries a serious health risk.
Display Until or sell by are instructions for shop staff only, not for shoppers.
You should be aware of this and put all items that need to be eaten at the front of the fridge, and later date items at the back. This is called 'stock rotation.'
Check your fridge
Check that the seals on your fridge are good and check the fridge temperature as well. Also, food needs to be stored between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and longevity.
Use your freezer
Use your freezer to help preserve any leftovers you may have. Purchasing and array of different size Tupperware are also advised.
Leftovers from Christmas can be turned into quick meals by using a range of herbs, spices, and creativity. For example, Meats such as roast turkey, chicken, goose or gammon can be turned into curries, pies (using readymade pastry), stir-fries and pasta bakes. In addition, vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, parsnips, swede, and peas can be used in the same way. Purchasing common herbs e.g. basil, chives, and parsley can enhance the flavour of your food. Also, common spices such curry power, cumin, turmeric, and paprika help to create news dishes because of their distinct taste and colour.
Recycle your waste
Separate your food waste from your general waste, meaning using your kitchen caddy been for food waste instead of your general kitchen bin. Recycle your Christmas food waste by using your mini kitchen caddy bin, remembering to use either newspaper or compostable bin liners to line it with. Also, remember that food waste is a source so food waste can be used to produce fertiliser to grow more food with. This way, you are returning important nutrients back into the soil.
Use your local community
There are many churches, care homes and homeless shelters (or individual homeless men and women in the street) that are always in need of food. Try and contact one in your local area and arrange a way to give them your extra Christmas food.
Use mobile apps
Use apps such as Olio, which is a free app which connects neighbours with each other and local shops so that surplus food can be shared, to give away your extra food straight from your mobile phone. There may be neighbours, students, and families in desperate need of your extra Christmas food.