How to prevent food waste this Christmas
Updated: Feb 13
Picture from The Guardian, Louise Hagger.
For many people, this time of year is about letting go and allowing ourselves to indulge a little more than usual. There’s no shame in that. It’s a great time of year to relax and enjoy some quality time with family. But, sadly, just because we’re taking a Christmas break, it doesn’t mean that the climate crisis is. And the same goes for our eco-anxiety.
A lot of us will be worrying about food waste and overindulgence this festive season. And for good reason! In the UK, 80% more food is cooked at Christmas than any other time of year, and approximately 66% of people admit to buying too much Christmas food that ends up in the bin.
The festive season can already be a pretty stressful time of year. Adding worries and guilt about food waste and overconsumption to that isn’t much fun at all. So we’ve done some worrying for you…
Here are a few tips to bear in mind and help you reduce your food waste over Christmas - so you can focus on being merry and enjoying your time with your loved ones, guilt-free.
1. Organisation is key.
When you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. If you’re cooking something you’ve never cooked before - make sure you practise first, in a low pressure environment, to avoid mistakes which lead to binned food on the actual day.
When you go shopping, make sure you haven’t already got that food item at home! There could be something very useful lurking at the back of your cupboard that you forgot about.
2. Forget binning food, bin your scarcity mindset instead.
It’s far too tempting to buy too much food for Christmas, most of which just ends up in the bin.
During the festive season we:
● Throw away 263,000 turkeys.
● Throw away 7.5 million mince pies.
● Bin 740,000 portions of Christmas pudding.
There are a couple of reasons why food waste at Christmas is so common. The main reason
being the tonnes of advertisements encouraging you to spend, spend, spend, eat, eat, eat!
When we really don’t need to.
It’s almost as if we imagine our stomachs to double in size just because it’s Christmas. And we also expect all the shops to be completely devoid of food between Christmas and the new year. This isn’t the case. We know that’s not the case. Sure, we may be nibbling a bit more than usual but that doesn’t mean we have to buy out the entire supermarket just because mum and dad are visiting.
For most people who are fortunate, it’s more likely that we’ll have too much food than too little. So don’t panic when you’re going food shopping - only buy what you know you’ll eat.
Shop without a scarcity mindset. This is easy to do if you have a plan…
3. Make a plan, and stick to the plan.
When writing your shopping list, think carefully about how much you’re buying - will you really eat all that food? You could even create a loose meal plan for each day of the festive period so you ensure you don’t buy food you don’t need. You don’t have to actually stick to a strict meal plan, but it can help when considering how much food you’re going to need.
Sticking to a shopping list and plan will help you to ignore all the unnecessary discounts and offers that, ultimately, lead to you spending more money than you planned in the first place.
Make sure you eat a meal before you do your Christmas shopping (even if you’re doing it online). We all know that shopping on an empty stomach leads to bad, if not delicious, decisions.
4. Be creative with your Christmas food.
Picture from The Guardian, Louise Hagger.
Another reason it’s so easy to overbuy at Christmas is because a lot of the food comes ready-made and pre-packaged. It takes more effort to cook your own festive treats but the pay-off is so much more rewarding. Creating your own menu with your own homemade food will help you steer clear of that extra packet of mince pies near the checkout at Tesco. And it will likely save you money too.
Okay, so what if you do all the above, but still somehow have food left over? You can share it
with your neighbours! There’s really no better time than Christmas to help out a neighbour in
There are plenty of recipes online that can help you use up your festive leftovers and make
them into delicious post-christmas treats for your neighbours. If you’re not familiar with the
people living nearby, this is a great excuse to get to know them and build a stronger community, in a time when we need it the most.
Become a Food Next Door Ambassador to easily reduce food waste this season, and spread a bit of Christmas cheer while you’re at it.