It can be tempting at Christmas to stock up on lots of the things you love to eat, but buying too much can lead to things going off before you have a chance to enjoy them.
The average household typically throws away £480 worth of food over the course of a year, rising to £680 for a family. This Christmas you can easily reduce food wastage and save money by taking a few easy steps to plan ahead and use up every mouthful of leftover food.
Stick to your list
It’s easy to be tempted when you’re shopping, so make a list and stick to it. If you find yourself getting distracted, ask yourself whether you really need it. Try and keep an eye on use by and sell by dates plus any storage guidelines to make sure everything gets eaten in time.
Work your freezer
Use your freezer to help preserve any leftovers or ingredients that may almost be past their best. You can freeze packaged food right up until the use by date, so if there’s something hiding at the back of the fridge and it needs using up, transfer it to the freezer and use at a later date.
For those fresh foods that don’t freeze well, make a note of the use by date and make sure you include them in your meal plans before the date.
Here’s a few likely ingredients you may need to pop in the freezer over Christmas:
Place any leftover roast meat in the freezer in usable sized portions, making sure it is thoroughly defrosted and reheated when you come to use it again.
Root veg (including potatoes) – blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, cool, and freeze in bags or tubs. They can be used for soups, stews or roasted.
Cheese – if you’ve bought too much cheese for Christmas it can be saved before the use by date. Grate, crumble or slice, depending on the type of cheese, before storing in the freezer – then add straight into soups, pasta, lasagne and gratins.
Lemons or limes – before they go past their best, slice them up, wrap in foil and freeze. They make easy ice slices to add to drinks.
Fresh herbs – chop finely, pop into ice cube trays and top up with water or combine with softened butter and divide into small portions to use another time.
Bread – it’s always a good idea to have an extra loaf in the freezer. It keeps perfectly and you can use a sliced loaf at breakfast by toasting slices straight from frozen.
Get creative with leftovers
Leftovers from Christmas can be turned into some lovely quick meals - from pasta dishes to pies and risottos and soups. You can enter up to three ingredients at once in our leftover tool to search for recipes or have a look at our tempting collection of Christmas leftovers recipe ideas.
Use up the special ingredients
Sometimes new recipes will need a packet of a specific ingredient that you would never usually buy. Once you’ve used what you need to, check the use by date and find out if you can freeze any excess. If you need to use it up, find another recipe to make to eat now. You could even freeze what you’ve made to eat when you don’t feel like cooking after Christmas!
The ever-versatile roast
You’ll find plenty of inspiration for using any leftovers in main meals or snacks, including ideas for turkey, chicken, pork, salmon, beef, lamb, ham and gammon.
With thanks to Love Food Hate Waste