Festive season is a great time to celebrate a specialty food. A table loaded with roast turkey, mince pies and Christmas pudding, set in the background of a twinkling tree is a common image we all want to recreate in our homes for Christmas. It is also that time of the year when we overspend, overeat and grow our food waste as a result. So how much food do we exactly waste when it comes to Christmas? According to Univeler, we buy 10 million turkeys, around 370 million mince pies and 25 million Christmas puddings out of which we waste 20%. So that is:
- 20% of 10 million turkeys = 2 million
- 20% of 370 million mince pies = 74 million
- 20% of 25 million Christmas puddings = 5 million
Let’s put this into perspective. According to the charity WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme), the total UK household food waste reaches about 7.1 million tonnes a year. This represents 68% of the whole food waste in the country and makes our homes the biggest contributors to it. WRAP also identifies three stages of food waste: spoilage (21%), food prep (45%) and leftover plates (34%). This is not just discarded food that we waste, but all the other resources that goes into production of it such as water, land, fossil fuels, human labour. Obviously, we waste our own money too! Good news is that there are some easy steps we could to take to reduce food waste without taking out the festive fun this Christmas. Here are some of my favourite ideas collated while browsing the internet: Got leftover food – Freeze it! When it comes to leftovers a freezer is your friend. did you know that Stilton freezes well and lasts for ages in the freezer? Defrost it anytime for a cheeseboard, soup or quiche. Leftover cooked meat is also well kept in the freezer. They can be added to casseroles, curries or pies later in the month. Ooh and even leftover mince pies can go there: Chop up your mince pies into tiny pieces, mix into softened vanilla ice cream and whack it back into the freezer, ready for your next sweet craving.
Storing cooked vegetables might get a bit tricky as most of them do not take kindly to be frozen. Instead they can be kept in a fridge for the boxing day to be used in bubble and squeak or quick, heart-warming soups. Also, don’t throw little bits of veggies, protein and cheese. Add them to quiches and egg bakes for a beautiful flavour. Also, there is a lot of peeling and stalk cutting involved when it comes to prepping Christmas food. If you consult Google, you can find use of any parts of produce such as the leaves and skin. There are great recipes for making veggie stocks out the skins and the leaves are added to stir-fries or smoothies. There is even a recipe for making bacon out of banana peel (here’s the link if you fancy trying it). Google really is a great source to turn to for inspiration. There is always a food waste caddy for everything else if your hangover takes over the next day. It is indisputably, more environmentally friendly to let your discarded food be used for composting rather than send it to a landfill. Besides there are more and more companies out there (such as Refood) that turn food waste into renewable energy and sustainable bio-fertiliser via anaerobic digestion (AD). Please just let the following thought sink in: ‘If all food waste at Christmas was recycled (rather than binned), we could power the average home for 57 years.’(Environmental Journal)
So why not fill up your food/garden recycling bin for the local council to collect it. This Christmas, why not try these simple steps to reduce food waste? Reuse and freeze your leftovers. Also don’t forget to use your food waste caddy. These steps might seem small in the grand scheme of things, but collectively we can make difference in reducing Christmas food waste.