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How To Avoid Food Waste This Christmas


Nearly 13% of festive food shop ends up in the bin.

Nearly 13% of festive food shop ends up in the bin.


  • A recent survey by Waitrose showed that many of us waste more food than usual during the festive season

  • 41% said they would be more creative with their leftovers if they had some inspiration

  • Sandwiches were voted the most popular leftover dish, followed by a curry, bubble and squeak and soup

A poll of 2,000 adults who celebrate Christmas found nearly one in three (31 per cent) admit to wasting more food than usual at this time of year – as 61 per cent overbuy to make sure they don’t run out. And 16 per cent find it difficult to judge just how much they need to see them through. But in a bid to curb the amount of food which gets chucked away, 35 per cent are going to force down foods they don’t particularly like. While 38 per cent will be giving leftovers for their guests to take away with them, 41 per cent will try to get creative in the kitchen to use up their leftovers. With sandwiches being the most popular leftover dish, 39 per cent like to spice things up on Boxing Day with a curry, 36 per cent turn to the traditional bubble and squeak, and 31 per cent chuck their leftovers into a hearty soup. The research was commissioned by Waitrose as part of its campaign to help halve UK household food waste by 2030, and to help customers save money and take care in their meal planning this Christmas, chefs from the supermarket have come up with their top tips to make the most of festive leftovers. Zoe Simons, senior brand development chef at Waitrose, said: “Getting ready for the big day can be a stressful and exciting time, especially now we’re able to host family and friends once again after the pandemic. But both of these factors can cause people to buy much more food at Christmas than they actually need – and inevitably, a proportion of this, unfortunately, finds its way into the bin." “It’s encouraging to learn that so many are taking care to reduce what they waste, particularly at Christmas, and we want to help where we can. That’s why we’ve come up with some simple and exciting ways to give people the impetus to work up something special with what may typically have been thrown away.” The research found potatoes, carrots and pigs in blankets are the most popular foods households have on Christmas Day, followed by sprouts and turkey. With such an array of different foods left behind, 49 per cent would be more likely to cook with their leftovers if they had more inspiration in the kitchen. When quizzed more generally about food waste, 27 per cent recognised their household had a problem with it, but 48 per cent said their awareness of the issue has increased over the last five years. But the study carried out via OnePoll, found 54 per cent believe food waste is a major issue we need to tackle together as a society. Zoe Simons added: “As tends to be the case with environmental issues, there are often small changes we can make at home which can make a difference. Nobody buys food with the intention of throwing it in the bin, but with UK homes discarding 4.5 million tonnes of it every year, there are little steps you can take to reduce this waste. “From planning your meals carefully over the Christmas period to ensure you’re buying the right amount for the number of people you’re hosting to how you store your food. We’ve also made it easier for our customers by selling oddly shaped vegetables as well as forgotten cuts of meat - and we’re continuing to work closely with FareShare to donate surplus food to vulnerable families across the UK.” Thrifty Tips From The Waitrose Chefs & The Penny Pincher

  • Take time to plan, consider how many people you are cooking for, how many meals you will be expected to prepare, factor in that some of those meals will be perfect for the leftovers of your main Christmas meal.

  • Think ahead and store items in the freezer throughout December that you can use on the day, such as scraps of bread for bread sauce or veg peelings that you use throughout the month to make stock and gravy.

  • Buying your fruit and vegetables loose not only helps in reducing packaging waste, but you can also buy the exact quantities that you need. Look out for yellow sticker veggies a few days before Christmas, you may be able to grab some reduced cost veg, which will be fine to use for your Christmas dinner, especially root veg.

  • Leftovers from the main meal can be blitzed gently in a food processor (think roasted carrots, parsnips and potatoes, along with some of the turkey), then combined with an egg - formed into croquette shapes and coated with breadcrumbs - air fry until crispy for a tasty boxing day nugget, perfect for dipping into leftover gravy.

  • I personally whizz extra veggies into chicken stock, or vegetable stock, with my food processor, and this makes a yummy soup, which can be frozen, so you can enjoy it later on! This method means you won't waste a single vegetable, as you can throw anything into a soup!

  • Cooked meat can also be reheated for another meal. Cold meats often go dry and don't taste great if reheated, especially turkey and pork, but my top tip is to make up some stock using a couple of stock cubes and boiling water and add this to a baking tray. Lay the sliced meat into the stock, making sure the stock is covering the meat, then top with some foil and put this into the oven on a medium heat. The meat will heat up and absorb the stock, which will make it nice and tender, make sure it's good and hot and then serve. Only do this once; it's not recommended to do this more than once!

If you need help working out quantities per person, here’s an estimate:

  • Green vegetables: large handful per person

  • Roots (carrots/parsnips): 2 per person

  • Potatoes: 1 large potato per person (with maybe an extra thrown in for every 4th person as you don't want to be short on roasties!)


Images and information courtesy of Waitrose.


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