As the third part of our series of posts helping you to reduce your “Christmas footprint” we’ve got some ideas and suggestions for cutting down on food waste over the festive period. Christmas is traditionally a time when families tend to buy more food than normal, and items that they might not buy at other times of the year. Unfortunately as a country we then waste quite a lot of this – food waste can increase by up to 80% over the holidays!
- Firstly: don’t panic! These days shops are only shut for one or two days over Christmas, so there’s no need to buy a month’s supplies for an entire army. Reducing “impulse purchases” before Christmas means they don’t have to turn into waste after Christmas. It also means that you might be able to score some bargains on 27th December when the shops are open, so saving money at what can already be an expensive season.
- Draw up a shopping list before you go to the shops, and stick to it. Shopping online can also help as you may be less tempted by in store offers and advertising, plus you’ll reduce the carbon footprint for travelling to/from the shops. The delivery van will still have a carbon footprint but these often have carefully planned routes intended optimise the journeys around the town and your Christmas provisions will be sharing that fuel use with lots of other people’s orders.
- If you do go to the shops, try to walk, cycle or take the bus. This nor only directly reduces your carbon footprint but also reduces town centre air quality problems and discourages you from buying unnecessary food items as you have to carry them home yourself!
- Check on the “use by” dates of items you buy to make sure that they’ll last through the Xmas period. If you have got some things with particularly short shelf lives plan in advance to have those in meals on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day.
- Planning meals can also help you budget and buy just what you need. The Love Food Hate Waste folk have a handy online portion planner so you can check how much you need in advance.
- Ask your family/guests what they’d really like for Christmas dinner. It might surprise you! It’s much easier and cheaper to plan for a Christmas Day lunch of homemade pizza than it is a full roast dinner. And probably would result in considerably less waste and less energy use too.
- Remember that whilst rich food is a great treat once in a while, it can soon get too much after a few solid days of digestive indulgence. Plan to have a few simple “store cupboard” meals as well which can make use of items you already have with long shelf lives.
- Large gatherings with big meals almost inevitably result in “left overs”. Plan in advance for this happening – for example if you’re cooking brussel sprouts or cabbage for Christmas Day lunch, why not have bubble-and-squeak planned on Boxing Day lunch (which is quick and easy so you can also go for family walks or shopping trips)?
- As well as using leftovers immediately, consider if any can be frozen for use in meals in January. It can also be good to refill empty space in the freezer resulting from using up Christmas food, which makes the freezer more efficient (you’re not trying to chill empty space).
- When bringing your shopping into the house, make sure you store things correctly. Follow the instructions on packets and labels, and also check that your fridge is cold enough to keep food refrigerated safely.
- If you do have uncooked fruit and vegetables that have spoiled, you can compost them in a back garden compost bin, along with any peelings that you generate whilst cooking and eating others. Cardboard food packaging can also be torn up and composted. Don’t put fats, meat or cooked food into the compost bin though as that can attract vermin.
We hope these tips will help you have a happy, joyful and peaceful Christmas. Eat, drink and be merry!