Christmas is synonymous with quality family time, bringing people together, and eating and drinking!
A staggering seven million tonnes of food ends up in the bin each Christmas in the UK. Unsurprisingly, this places ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ as the time of the year when food waste is at its peak.
Food waste is a significant problem in the UK, and a disproportionate amount of the UK’s annual household food waste (4.5 million tonnes of food) is during the time when we're celebrating the festive period.
More than half of the Brits say that they spend more money than they should on food during Christmas time. Approximately one third admit that they have to deal with food waste more at Christmas than other times of the year.
Christmas food waste is staggering!
- 5 million Christmas puddings
- 2 million turkeys
- 74 million mince pies
Get thrown away while still edible.
Add in all the vegetables, cheeses, nuts, and other party nibbles that end up stale, unwanted and in the bin- we're talking a lot of waste.
Aside from the financial implications and the fact that so many people in poverty cannot afford to feed their families, this has a huge impact on the environment. In 2018, food waste from households and businesses in the UK stood at around 9.5 million tonnes. According to the charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), this waste would be associated with more than 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Meat has traditionally always been the centre of attention on Christmas Day but is not always the most sustainable option.
Increasing numbers of us are now opting for a plant-based diet. Delicious meat-free options such as this vegetarian wellington delicious alternatives to traditional Christmas roasts.
Every meal doesn’t have to be piled high with meat, so don’t be afraid to add a few more vegetables and a little less meat to your recipe.
If you plan on Christmas with a turkey, then try to find sustainable supplier. And buying a whole turkey rather than a crown is more cost effective and will give you more leftovers to eat!
Keep your veggies close to home too. UK-grown veggies are not only locally grown, but they’re seasonal as well. This means fewer food miles, and less reliance on artificial ripening methods.
Ultimately, deciding what to cook for Christmas dinner is all about being responsible and serving food that will get eaten. If most of your guests can’t stand Brussels sprouts, then don’t buy a huge amount. When it comes to party foods, desserts and snacks, aim to simply buy less.
Great progress was made during lockdown last year, when people were stuck at home and became accustomed to making meal plans, using leftovers, and freezing food rather than disposing of it. These habits are perfect for reducing waste over the Christmas period.
Christmas leftovers are wonderfully versatile. Bubble and squeak, turkey curry, baked potatoes anyone? Dairy such as cream or cheese can be frozen if you end up with too much to eat.
How to stop food waste at Christmas
Stopping food waste at Christmas comes down to planning, and self control!
Plan your meals and resist the urge to impulse buy when it's not something you would use.
Christmas is generally a time when a huge amount of single-use plastic is used, so wherever possible buy loose fruit and vegetables, farm shops and markets are perfect places to do this.
When you’re choosing your meat, dairy, or other fresh produce, pay close attention to the use-by date so that you’re confident you won’t have to throw it away before you need it. Always use the 'sniff test' if something is past it's use by date - it could still be fine to eat.
- Meal Planning
- Factor in leftovers- Christmas Dinner #2 on Boxing Day and all week picky lunches
- Use a portion planner- how much do you really need for 8 guests, if one is a child for instance?
- Write a list - shop the list. Ignore the offers and the beautifully marketed and packaged novelty Christmas fare.
- Share the shopping & leftovers - get guests to bring a dish for the meal and fill it with all the delicious bits and bobs leftover, they'll be grateful for it if they haven't cooked Christmas dinner at home.
- Buy less but better quality - organic, local and seasonal produce are usually tastier and will inspire you not to waste!
If you have leftovers you dont know how to use, Love Food Hate Waste have a useful Recipe Finder. Simply add your ingredient and you'll get recipe suggestions.
Happy Christmas Cooking!