Seven secrets to stop festive food waste

Food waste hits all of us in the pocket, with the average family throwing out €700 worth of food per annum.

Christmas is when we throw out the most in quantity but also when we see some very expensive foods make their way to the brown bin.

Turkey, ham, stuffing, sauces, salmon, canapes, cheeses, desserts are some of the high cost items commonly found in bins during the season.

It is worth considering that food waste contributes significantly to climate change as growing, processing, packaging and transporting food uses energy and resources and then when we throw it away, as it rots, it releases yet more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Shockingly we will throw out millions of euro worth of food over Christmas week. Cork County Council has joined seven other local authorities to link up with Catherine Fulvio to explore how we can avoid food waste in the coming weeks.

Secret No. 1 – Plan ahead

Planning your Christmas Feast will save you time and money. First of all consider how many people are coming?

This year may be less people than usual, so don’t get carried away. What are your favourite foods? Is there a food item that gets bought for tradition but not eaten each year.

Leave it off the list. From here build your menu. And remember there is no need to over shop for essentials like milk and bread. Shops reopen quickly.

Cork County Council has joined seven other local authorities to link up with Catherine Fulvio for the launch of Seven Secrets to Stop Festive Food Waste, including hints and tips on how to avoid food waste over the coming weeks. (Photo: Harry Weir)

Secret No. 2. – Organize your storage

Organize storage for all the extra food in the house. Sort out your fridge using up contents to make space for the extra volume Christmas week. Check what you have in stock before shopping.

The golden rule is old to the front, new to the back to ensure everything gets used up within date. Don’t forget you need space for leftovers after the big meal on Christmas Day.

Secret No. 3. – Portion control

Serving dishes can be used to avoid too much waste on the plate though care will be needed sharing serving dishes this year with guests. More attention to asking people what they want on their plate will help.

Starters should be light and small for a big meal like Christmas. Avoid bread with the starter. Encourage seconds rather than putting out big portions to start with.

Have storage ready to go so leftovers can move straight to the fridge after the meal.

Secret No. 4. – Use your leftovers

Local authorities working with the Stop Food Waste Challenge have produced the 12 Days of Christmas recipe booklet with ideas for using up some of the leftovers.

Get creative. Turkey can be used in a versatile range of dishes from risotto to salads so no need to stick with the traditional sambo. Have you tried cranberry sauce with jam on pancakes?

Check out to get your free copy of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Secret No. 5. – Make the most of your freezer

The golden rule of freezing is to portion it, label it and date it. Give yourself a cut off point, two days, after which any remaining leftovers will go from fridge to freezer.

Nobody wants to keep eating it day after day. You can freeze individual dinner portions. You can make a batch of curry too.

Secret No. 6. – Get creative with desserts

The left over desserts such as pudding or mince pies can seem unappetizing after the big event but there are recipes which can help to give them a transformation.

Secret No. 7. – New Year’s resolution

Let your New Year’s resolution be to cut back on your food waste in 2021 and save up to €700! With a few simple changes, you can significantly reduce the amount of food discarded in your home.

Plan your meals for the week. Check what you already have in the fridge and cupboard and write your shopping list. Stick to it!

You’ll be amazed at how much you save.