Our favourite recipes to reduce food waste
Stale mince pies piled on the sides, the fridge stacked with bowls of leftovers, and the food waste bin overflowing despite having more to throw away… Does this sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone! Over 30% of Brits say they have more food waste at Christmas than any other time of year (1). Each year we throw away the equivalent of 4 million dinners over the festive period, including 263,000 turkeys and 11 million roast potatoes (2).
Emily from The Sustainable Food Society and myself are on a mission to help you save money AND reduce your food waste this winter. That’s why we have decided this is the perfect opportunity to team up and deliver this Fight Festive Food Waste campaign!
During the series, you’ll find out how to:
Save up to 18% on your December food bills
Reduce your food waste
Reduce the stress of the post-party clean-up
Have a cleaner kitchen
Plus, we’ll share loads of our favourite recipes and tips and tricks to help you keep your festivities environmentally friendly.
The festive period can be expensive: having family or friends round for dinner, buying last-minute secret Santas, and going on unplanned pub trips all add up, especially during the cost-of-living crisis. The good news is that reducing your food waste is a great way to save money. In the UK, the average household throws away a whopping £780 each year (3). Therefore, reducing the amount of food you throw away by getting creative with leftovers, or (even better) buying only what you need, can save a significant amount!
As well as having a little more cash, fighting food waste is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of your diet. Globally, we waste around one-third of all the food we produce (4), and in the UK, 70% of this waste is from households (5). This means that each of us can make a massive difference by tweaking our habits at home: we don’t need to wait for supply chains to change or for government policy. If we ate all the food we produced, rather than throwing one-third of it in the bin, we could cut global carbon emissions by a whopping 10% (6). That’s a pretty great Christmas present for Mother Nature!
Three food waste tips for before the festivities begin
1. Check the temperature of your fridge and freezer
Your fridge should be between 0 and 5 degrees Celcius, and your freezer should be at or below -17 degrees Celcius. This will ensure your food remains fresher for longer!
2. Know your calendar and only buy what you need
December can be a busy period, so planning your meals is a great way to know how much food you’re going to need. Create a shopping list and do your best to stick to it. It may be tempting to stock up on all the Christmas offers, but this often ends with a lot of food getting wasted!
3. Make room for your festive feasting: clear space in your fridge and freezer
Before the Christmas period, make some space by clearing out your fridge, freezer and cupboards. Not only will this give you lots of space to play with during the Christmas period, making post-party clean-ups much easier, but it will mean you need to buy fewer meal ingredients in the coming days! Earmark the coming Monday and Tuesday nights in to eat those frozen meals. This is the perfect time to get creative with those extra tins of beans in the cupboard and be ruthless with those jars which have lived in the fridge all year. You can check out this three-bean chilli recipe here!
Here are some of our favourite recipes to help you use things up:
The perfect way to use up random vegetables. You can even chuck in leftover meat, pasta, rice, or even beans and lentils. I love having some in the freezer on standby to have with a thick slice of crusty bread with a generous spread of butter. A perfect winter warmer!
I recently got myself a magic bag on TooGoodToGo from my local fruit and veg shop. Amongst other things, I received a cauliflower, a parsnip, and a bulb of fennel. I washed it all before roasting it in the oven with 2 onions and a bulb of garlic. I added this to some of my veg scrap stock along with some salt, pepper, white wine vinegar, and a dollop of mustard. You can follow this recipe and replace the pumpkin for whatever ingredients you fancy!
Got leftover bread?
Did you know over 20 million slices of bread are thrown away each day in the UK alone. Instead of throwing your money in the bin, put a tray of any stale bread into the oven with your dinner to dry it out before adding it to a food processor to turn it into breadcrumbs, which can be stored in the freezer. This is the PERFECT preparation for your Christmas stuffing. Just mix the breadcrumbs with sauteed onion, celery, sage, salt, pepper, and a little gravy or stock to moisten it. You can also add nuts and dried cranberries (whatever you have in the cupboards) before baking in a covered dish at 180 degrees Celcius for 30-45 minutes.
How about extra fruit?
I’m a huge fan of dehydrating fruit. This removes all moisture from your food which allows for long-term storage. You can add your dehydrated fruit to baked goods, granola mixes, or for an easy snack on the go! You can either use a specially made dehydrator for this or your oven. Check out my blog post for more on dehydrating here.
Do you have an abundance of eggs and veg? When I rely less on recipes and more on cooking methods, I find I waste much less food and worry less about what I’m going to eat for dinner. I keep my cupboards well stocked with essentials, and for me, eggs are included in this. All it takes to make a frittata are eggs and vegetables. My favourite combinations include potatoes, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers, but you can use anything!
Prepare the vegetables. If using potatoes, I’d slice these into 0.5cm slices and fry them until golden on one side. Then flip them over to brown the other side. Add your other veg here. I always add sliced onions and other sliced vegetables and salt generously.
Add your eggs to a bowl, the quantity will vary according to the size of your pan, but for me, 10 eggs work well. Beat until well mixed. I add my cooked vegetables to the egg mixture, along with a generous handful of cheese.
Once well mixed, add the mix back into a warm pan on the hob and cook on a medium heat until the edges lift away from the pan. Then whack under the grill to finish cooking for 5-10 minutes until the top is golden.
If you’ve got a suitable oven-proof pan or dish, you can also bake your frittata for 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees Celcius.
Don't forget to check out The Sustainable Food Society and their blog post here!