If you want to reduce Christmas food waste in 2020 to help the environment and your wallet, then this article will help.
We are all guilty of over-spending, but the UK wastes a huge amount of food during the festive period. For example, did you know that we waste:
- 5 million Christmas puddings
- 74 million mince pies
- 2 million turkeys.
An incredible 270,000 tons of food will be wasted over Christmas, and since most of us are overspending on food and treats for the festivities, that is a huge amount of cash being blown as well.
We all know this is the season to be merry, and most of us will be in a food-induced coma in the afternoon of Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean that we should waste food.
Love Food Hate Waste says that we will be:
- Consuming 10 million turkeys on Christmas Day
- Spend more than £20 on each person at the Christmas dinner table
- But we will waste an astonishing 1 million tonnes of festive roast dinners EVERY YEAR!
That equates to an incredible 4.2 million Christmas dinners getting binned!
Not only is that a phenomenal waste of money, it’s also bad for the environment.
Eco-friendly food tips
To help, these are the Christmas.co.uk eco-friendly food tips to save you cash and prevent so much food being wasted.
The first and most important step, is to plan ahead.
By doing so, you’ll resist any urge for impulse buying.
This means you need to work out how much food you will need for Christmas Day dinner when entertaining friends and family.
You then need to make a shopping list – and stick to it.
Try to ignore any special Christmas offers, as tempting as they may be.
Check use-by dates
One of the big issues when food shopping for Christmas, is that we may be buying food that has a use-by date that is before 25 December.
So, whenever you buy fresh produce, dairy or meat, check the use-by date.
This also means you will not have to throw so much out before you need it.
Also, storing vegetables and fruit properly means they will last longer.
Use your freezer
Rather than throw food leftovers into the bin, consider freezing them.
Most Christmas foods can be sealed properly and then placed in the freezer for use another day. They include:
- Mince pies
- Bread sauce.
You can even freeze wine, and you should label any plastic cartons or bags with the day the food was made.
There’s a helpful list of foods that you can freeze and how you can package them on the Love Food Hate Waste site.
Give the food away
Well, this is the easiest and simplest solution to having too much food, but not everyone will consider doing it.
For example, if you have family or friends staying with you over the festivities, consider sending them home with lots of excess food.
You can also preserve, ferment and pickle vegetables and fruit, you simply need a mason jar.
This is an excellent video from Hubbub about Christmas food waste.
The top 10 foods we throw away Christmas
The industrial giant Unilever has a project called ‘Clear a Plate’ and they carried out a survey which found the average Christmas meal will cost £112.
To put that figure into perspective, researchers say that’s what the average family will spend feeding a family for four days.
So, which foods are we throwing away every year? This top 10 from Unilever is frankly astonishing.
10 Christmas puddings
Okay, not everyone loves a Christmas pudding, but we throw away 740,000 of them. That’s just wasteful.
9 Pigs in blankets
Everyone loves pigs in blankets, but we waste 7.1 million of them.
In most homes, there will not be many pigs in blankets going spare but if there are, it is worth considering using them as a crispy addition to a turkey sandwich, for example.
8 Mince pies
For many of us, the first appearance of mince pies heralds the coming of Christmas, but we still throw 7.5 million of these delicacies away.
Mince pies are also the food item are still thrown out when we are so full, we cannot eat another thing.
You can keep them in an airtight container and reheat them to use with a dollop of ice cream, or you can freeze them.
For many people, stuffing is a must-have on the Christmas dinner plate – but we obviously make too much of it.
Instead, keep it and use in bubble and squeak or in a turkey sandwich with those unused pigs in blankets.
Not surprisingly, turkey will appear in the list of top 10 foods we throw away every Christmas.
We throw away nearly a million slices of turkey – that’s the equivalent of 263,000 birds.
That’s also a lot of turkey sandwiches that have not been made, so wrap up your slices in cling film to use later, or the next day.
Properly sealed roast turkey can be kept for two days, so it doesn’t have to be finished on Christmas Day.
Another survey reveals that we waste around £45 million worth of gravy or, as Unilever say, there’s enough gravy wasted in the UK to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
That’s a big shame when gravy can be saved for later use and even frozen.
The gravy can be used for a beef stew or casserole.
Another surprising vegetable that we throw out is the humble parsnip.
We chuck 10.9 million parsnips out every year when they can be stored in the fridge and then warmed through or used in a mash. And with herbs and some butter, it creates a nice little side dish. Or you can make a parsnip soup.
This one is a surprise when uneaten potatoes can be easily used later.
Despite this, we bin 11.3 million potatoes after finishing Christmas dinner.
You can use them in bubble and squeak, pan fry them to make crispy again, or add them to a turkey sandwich.
There are so many options for potatoes, there is no excuse for throwing so many away.
The humble carrot is a mainstay for many Christmas dinners – but that doesn’t stop us throwing 9 million of them away.
Apparently, this figure equates to the carrots reaching to Munich from London.
Leftover carrots will keep, and you can even make a tasty carrot and ginger soup from them.
That didn’t come as a surprise to you did it? It should not have done when most sprouts are dished up as a table decoration, and many people are forced to eat ‘at least one’ (that’s ‘eat at least two’ in our house!).
If you want to do more …
However, there is something that you can do to reduce food waste and the FareShare charity highlights that just 6% of food that would be thrown out actually ends up in the hands of those who are less fortunate.
Food banks are always on the lookout for toiletries and non-perishable food, but is also possible to donate puddings, chocolate and sweets as well.
Essentially, there is no excuse for so much waste when you plan ahead properly – and if you want to reduce Christmas food waste this year, consider using the food in other dishes or contacting a food bank or a charity for those items you haven’t opened.
If you would like to help people and families this Christmas with food, or with any other donations, The Trussell Trust would love to hear from you. Whether you want to donate food to a food bank near you, or volunteer to work in one, you can do your bit to help alleviate food poverty and hunger in the UK.