The festive period is one of our most expensive times of year, yet it seems it is during this spell of celebration that we are most gluttonous when it comes to food.
On average, a family will comfortably spend over £200 on food and drink alone at Christmas, the majority of which are perishable items that find their way into the bin way before the decorations have been packed away.
Wonky Veg has been a hot topic of recent months, making headlines with the backing of food waste pioneers working hard to highlight the wasteful behaviour of large supermarkets just in time for the Christmas dash.
It is easy however, to play the blame game when it comes to these corporate companies, when actually responsibilities may need to also be realised by the consumer. Households up and down the country are solely accountable for binning 50% of ALL food thrown away in the UK – perhaps therefore some onus needs to be placed a little closer to home.
On our shores alone, 7 million tonnes of food and drink ends up in household rubbish in just a 12-month cycle, with the Christmas holidays contributing significantly to this figure. It is therefore an individual responsibility this Christmas that every household is proactive in reducing food unnecessarily going to waste.
So what can you do?
PLAN YOUR MENU
The temptation when hosting at Christmas is to offer your guests the most lavish spread they have ever set their eyes on. Whether its pressure from the in-laws, or hosting for the first time, we often fall in the trap of offering enough food to feed a small army!
Plan your menu and work out portions methodically. Not only will this save you time when it comes to peeling potatoes and prepping parsnips, it will help the purse strings and fight against waste too.
It’s also wise to ask your guests their likes, and dislikes! Although we all have family feasting traditions, if people shudder at the thought sprouts, and cringe at the sight of Christmas pudding, maybe it’s time to ring the changes!
Not only actively supporting the ‘little guy’, purchasing your Christmas feast ingredients from local, independent stores has numerous advantages.
Often sourcing their products from trustworthy, ethical producers, independent stores carefully select products that are high in quality and value for money. More for your money and avoiding the perils over-buying caused by the lure of in-store offers, this way of shopping allows you to purchase more accurately.
With commonly less packaging and the ability to order exactly the quantity you require, down to the pound, shopping in local stores helps you to save the pennies and the wastage, whilst supporting local producers and suppliers.
Asking each party of people to contribute to the event ensures that there is always enough to go around but never more plates than people. At the end of the night, get out the doggy bags, and if there is still food lying around, fill the plate they arrived with. You’ll never polish it all off yourself, but a team effort will mean no food gets slung.
Additionally, offer a self-service system where people take a healthy portion that is just right for their appetite. It might mean there is more left in the dish when the table is cleared, but that can be wrapped up and frozen or enjoyed the next day- scraps on plates only means scraps in bins!
THE BIG FREEZE
Make good use of those lovely, lip-smacking leftovers that seem to taste even better the next day. Plan dishes that freeze well and complement one another that can be easily rustled up the following day or even week!
Having a store cupboard of frozen fancies also means that you don’t have to cater for those unexpected guests that may or may not show their faces!
Keep your carcass too once you have removed all the meat. Along with those peelings and woody vegetables that were headed for the bin, simmer up a simple soup or stock that becomes the delicious base to your coming week’s dishes.
With one-third of people likely to be more wasteful at this time of year than any other time, it seems a festive fight against food waste should be top of everyone’s Christmas list – find more useful information about reducing food waste at Love Food Hate Waste.
Photo & Words by Helen Upshall