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Fight Festive Food Waste: Tips for Early December

Tips to reduce your food waste throughout the festive season: ideas for early December.


Stale mince pies piled on the sides, the fridge stacked with bowls of leftovers, and the food waste bin overflowing despite having more to throw away… does this sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone! Over 30% of Brits say they have more food waste at Christmas than any other time of year (1). And, each year we throw away the equivalent of 4 million dinners over the festive period, including 263,000 turkeys and 11 million roast potatoes (2).


That's why Alex from 50 Ways to Cook and I have decided to team up and bring you our Fight Festive Food Waste campaign! We are on a mission to help you reduce your food waste by publishing a series of blog posts to give you the tools you need to reduce your food waste AND save money this winter.


You can check out 50 Ways to Cook here, or on Instagram!


During the series, you’ll find out how to:

  • Save up to 18% on your December food bills

  • Reduce your food waste

  • Reduce the stress of the post-party clean-up

  • Make your food go further

Plus, we’ll share loads of our favourite recipes, tips and tricks to help you keep your festivities environmentally friendly.



The festive period can be expensive: having family or friends round for dinner, buying gifts (including those last-minute secret santas!), and going on unplanned pub trips all add up, especially during the cost-of-living crisis. The good news is that reducing your food waste is a great way to save money; in the UK, the average household throws away a whopping £780 of food each year (3). By reducing the amount of food you throw away by getting creative with leftovers, or (even better) buying only what you need, you can save a lot of money.


As well as having a little more cash, fighting food waste is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of your diet. Globally, we waste around one-third of all the food we produce (4), and in the UK, 70% of this waste is from households (5). This means that each of us can make a massive difference by tweaking our habits at home: we don’t need to wait for supply chains to change or for government policy. If we ate all the food we produced, rather than throwing one-third of it in the bin, we could cut global carbon emissions by a whopping 10% (6). That’s a pretty great Christmas present for Mother Nature!



Our tips to help you prep for success and reduce your food waste throughout December


1. Check the temperature of your fridge and freezer


Your fridge should be between 0°C and 5°C, and your freezer should be at or below -17°C. This will ensure your food remains fresh for as long as possible.


2. Know your calendar and only buy what you need


December can be a busy period, so planning your meals is a great way to know how much food you’re going to need. Create a shopping list and do your best to stick to it. It may be tempting to stock up on all the Christmas offers, but this often ends with a lot of food getting wasted. You'll inevitably have some impromptu pub trips and nights out, so don't plan a new meal for every evening you think you'll be in! Anticipate having leftovers from other days for some evenings.


3. Make room for your festive feasting: clear space in your fridge and freezer


Before the Christmas period, make some space by clearing out your fridge, freezer and cupboards. Not only will this give you lots of space to play with during the Christmas period, making post-party clean-ups much easier, but it will mean you need to buy fewer meal ingredients in the coming days! Earmark the coming Monday and Tuesday nights in to eat your way through some of the contents of your freezer. Plus, this is the perfect time to get creative with those extra tins of beans in the cupboard (check out this three-bean chilli recipe) and be ruthless with those jars which have lived in the fridge all year.


To help you make room for your festive feasting, here are some of our favourite recipes:


Soup


Soup is the perfect way to use up random vegetables. You will need:

  • Vegetables, like broccoli, leeks, squash or pumpkin, carrots

  • A protein, like beans, lentils, chickpeas (you can even use leftover meat)

  • Flavour, like herbs, spices, lea and perrins, mustard

Play around and practice cooking intuitively by using the veg you have with the flavours you love! Our top tip is to roast the veg with the herbs or spices first, to really bring out the flavour of the veg. Then, fry some onions in butter, add the veg, stock and protein of choice, and simmer. You can make it smooth with a stick blender, or eat chunky (cut the veg small)! If you're not going to use a protein, you can stir some flour into the butter and onions to help thicken the sauce.


Serve with a thick slice of crusty bread with a generous spread of butter. A perfect winter warmer!



Bread to breadcrumbs


Did you know over 20 million slices of bread are thrown away each day in the UK alone(7)? Instead of throwing your money (old bread) in the bin, why not create breadcrumbs? This is the PERFECT preparation for your Christmas stuffing.


Lay out your stale bread on a baking sheet and bake at 150°C for 10 minutes (or until dry), before adding it to a food processor to turn it into breadcrumbs. Let them cool, and then store in clean, dry glass jars or containers for up to one year. You can keep them in the cupboard, but if you live in a very humid environment then store them in the freezer until you need them for your stuffing!


Dehydrate fruit for Christmas decorations


Alex is a huge fan of dehydrating fruit, which removes all moisture and allows for long-term storage. You can add your dehydrated fruit to baked goods, granola mixes, or for an easy snack on the go! Check out Alex's blog post for more ideas!


Alternatively, you can dry oranges, apples or limes to add to your Christmas wreath or candle centrepieces, or to make tree decorations or hanging garlands.


Slice the fruit thinly and uniformly (to ensure even drying), and bake in the oven on a lined baking sheet at 120°C (fan) for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning halfway through.


Frittata


By relying less on recipes and more on cooking methods, we find we waste much less food and worry less about what's we're going to eat for dinner. Frittata is a great example of a method which will use up your eggs, potatoes and vegetables. Alex's favourite combinations include potatoes, onions (these work well with any combo), mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers, but you can use anything!

  • Slice up your vegetables.

  • If using potatoes, slice into 0.5cm slices and fry them until golden on one side. Then flip them over to brown the other side.

  • Add your other veg, salt generously, and fry.

  • Add your eggs to a bowl, the quantity will vary according to the size of your pan, but for Alex, 10 eggs work well. Beat until well mixed.

  • Add the cooked vegetables to the egg mixture, along with a generous handful of cheese.

  • Once well mixed, add the mix back into a warm pan on the hob and cook on a medium heat until the edges lift away from the pan. Then whack under the grill to finish cooking for 5-10 minutes until the top is golden.

  • If you’ve got a suitable oven-proof pan or dish, you can also bake your frittata for 15-20 minutes at 180°C.


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