The most wonderful time of the year is also the most wasteful, but that needn’t be the case! In this post I share five ways you can reduce your food waste this Christmas so the season is lighter on your wallet, waistline and our precious planet.
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How much food do Australians waste?
Overstocking our pantries and fridges is common in Australia at the best of times; the NSW Government has reported that Australians typically toss up to 30% of the food they purchase, a staggering 315 kgs of food per household each year at a cost of just over $1000!
With Australians reportedly spending on average $122 per person on food for Christmas Day (source: finder.com.au) it’s likely that a fair portion ends up as food waste.
How does Food Waste Impact the Environment?
Food waste is a considerable global environmental issue.
Every time we throw food in the bin we’re not just wasting our money. We’re discarding the vast amounts of resources, energy and water that it took to produce, process, store, refrigerate, transport and cook the food. If that’s not bad enough, rotting food in landfill releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is particularly damaging to our environment.
In fact, the impact on climate change is so significant that reducing food waste has been listed within the top 5 solutions for climate change in Paul Hawken’s book “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.”
five Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Christmas Time
My top tip for Christmas catering is that excess typically equals more stress and more food waste. Keep the following tips in mind to reduce excess food waste this festive season.
1. Plan to shop
Meal planning is the critical ingredient to reduce food waste in your home this Christmas. Christmas meal planning involves deciding not just what to make, but how much to make. By planning your Christmas meals carefully you’ll be less likely to buy too much food in the first place. As much as you may love ham off the bone, a 10-kilogram ham is a bit much for a family of four to handle!!
Once you have your meal plan sorted, you’ll need to create your shopping list directly from your plan, taking into account food stocks you have on hand.
2. Shop to Plan
Of course, a plan is only as good as the execution so when shopping, make a concerted effort to stick to your list. If your Christmas meal plan tells you that you need 3 potatoes, don’t buy a whole bag of them. Of course it makes financial sense to stock up on specials of pantry staples you use often, but be extra careful where fresh produce and perishables are concerned. You won’t have saved anything if the produce is wilting in your fridge come New Years Eve.
If you’re particularly swayed by specials and marketing tactics, shop for produce online or submit your order in advance. Many independent grocers, organic stores and butchers are only too happy to provide this service.
3. Cook to Plan
Once you’re in the kitchen preparing your Christmas feast be sure to stick to your plan. Any last minute doubling of recipes or making extra side dishes will increase the likelihood of food waste.
4. Repurpose your leftovers
If you do over cater (and let’s be honest, it’s easy to do!), turn your Christmas leftovers into delicious meals that you can enjoy for weeks or even months to come!
Leftovers are not only great for meals where you’re short of time but they can also become the base for an entirely new dish. Rather than eating cold meat and salad platters for days on end after Christmas, try your hand at using the ham in risottos (ham and parmesan risotto), mini quiches or pasta carbonara. Turkey, like ham can be turned into soups, frittatas and quiches. You can also enjoy turkey cold in wraps, sandwiches or salads.
5. Freeze for another day
Chop up leftover ham and freeze to use on pizzas throughout the year. Don’t forget to freeze your ham bone too to make the most delicious pea and ham soup come autumn or winter.
Waste from Christmas seafood can be put to great use too! Freeze the heads and shells of prawns and lobster/ crayfish. When you have a quiet day pull them out of the freezer and simmer in water on a stovetop for 30 minutes to make fish stock for casserole and soups. Delicious!
Christmas doesn’t need to be a time of excess consumption and waste. By keeping things simple, planning ahead and repurposing leftover food, you’ll minimise the environmental impact of your celebration.
OVER TO YOU
I’ve out together a free ‘Seasons Greenings’ eguide that’s jam-packed with practical and simple ideas for you to enjoy a sustainable Christmas. Click here to download your copy.