It's easy to over-indulge at Christmas time and never more so when it comes to the amount of food we buy which goes uneaten. To help reduce the 4.2m Christmas dinners which get thrown away each year, we have some helpful hints and tips below and some seasonal facts designed to make you think twice about what we buy, cook and throw:
It may sound obvious but writing a shopping list before you tackle the big Christmas shop can help limit impulse buys. This may be better for the environment but could save you money too.
Unsure how much food you need to buy? Use Love Food Hate Waste's 'portion planner' calculator tool to get a better idea of what you need!
Many supermarkets offer 'Buy One Get One Free' deals which can be hard to resist. Before buying, consider if you are really likely to use the 'free' or discounted item. Check the shelves to see if there are alternatives available as part of the deal which you may be more likely to use instead.
One in five of us admit to buying Christmas food we don't even like. So limit yourself to buying foods you do like and reduce the chance of food going in the bin!
Make sure your fridge is set to the correct temperature by visiting Love Food Hate Waste's 'Chill the Fridge Out.' Setting your fridge to the right temperature can preserve your festive foods by a further 3 days, helping you waste less.
Remember to check regularly the 'use by' dates of the food in your fridge and cupboards. Move the food which needs using up first towards the front of the shelf as a simple reminder to use these first.
Be prepared. Make sure you have plenty of plastic containers (old margarine or ice cream tubs work well), foil and cling wrap at hand to make storing your leftovers easy.
If you have an excess of vegetables, why not slice and freeze them for later or have a go at pickling or fermenting in brine?
Confused about the difference between 'best before' and 'use by' dates? Use by’ dates are about safety. Foods can be eaten (or frozen) up until the ‘Use by’ date, but not after. ‘Best Before’ dates are about quality. Food will be safe to eat after this date but not be at its best. The Food Standards Agency's website has more advice.
It is thought that 740,000 Christmas puddings will get waste annually but left unopened shop-bough versions can have a shelf life of well over a year. So if you aren't likely to eat the Christmas pudding on the day, save it for later.
Using up leftovers
Did you know that 11.3m roast potatoes and 17.2m sprouts get wasted at Christmas? Use any spare vegetables to cook a quick and tasty supper such as classic bubble and squeak. If you have more of the mixture than you need this can be frozen.
Search online for plenty of inspiration and recipes to help you use up your leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste is a good place to start (check out the site's Christmas pizza!) while sites such as BBC Good Food allows you to search by ingredients as well as special dietary requirements.
Meat production uses a lot of energy. When it's thrown away all the energy which has been invested in the supply chain goes to waste too. Energy is needed to feed the livestock, transport animals, refrigerate and freeze the meat. So please use up your leftovers.
Many foods are not produced in the UK. Take a look at the food labels and discover how far the food you buy has travelled. Dates may come from Tunisia or Israel while clementines may have travelled from Spain or South Africa. That's a lot of miles!