Christmas is a time of family, friends, good food and holiday spirit; however, this can often mean it is also a time of excess. The year of 2020 has been predominantly ruled by the coronavirus pandemic, which may mean that many people need to be on a stricter Christmas budget this year. Or, after more issues of climate change have grown in volume, some may also be looking at how they can conduct a more sustainable and less wasteful Christmas. Christmas dinner, is an integral part of tradition, and many of us cook plenty of food, provide a treasure trove of snacks and treats, and keep the drinks flowing. Although Christmas leftovers can keep us fed for days, often there can be a lot of waste, so here is how to offset that.
Christmas food prep is often accompanied with a stressed-out Christmas food shop, whereby we often overcompensate for the amount of food we need for the big day and are left with far more food and snacks than we can eat. If you eat all this food in the coming days, that is great, but if you often find yourself throwing out food, perhaps consider where you can reduce to avoid waste – your wallet will be happy too!
If you are environmentally conscious, you may also try to shop sustainably. This can be anything from locally via farmers markets or greengrocers where the produce has been grown nearby and therefore not been transported over a long distance and therefore caused an excess of carbon emissions. Further, you can look to buy seasonally, forgoing the imported fruit or vegetables and purchasing what has been grown seasonally. Other ways you can be more eco-conscious is avoiding supermarket products with an excess of plastic, and opting for re-usable items such as napkins.
Save the Peels
Vegetable peels, egg shells and other organic material (except meat waste) can all go into a compost bin that you can keep in your garden. If you are an avid gardener, green thumb or just prefer to keep a couple of flowerbeds to spruce up your garden, a compost heap can be extremely beneficial to your gardening needs, putting tonnes of nutrients into the soil that will help your plants thrive not to mention improving the soil quality. If gardening doesn’t suit you, still creating a compost heap will keep food waste from landfill! Food waste that goes to landfill will often break down without enough oxygen putting harmful methane into the atmosphere – so it is much better for the environment to compost.
Failing this, vegetable peels can be boiled down in plenty of water and left to simmer to create a flavoursome stock for future recipes, or gravys. Other elements such as turkey or chicken bones can also be added to the stock too!
Get creative with leftovers
Whether or not you have managed to get your portion sizes completely accurate or you are left with a tonne of excess food, leftovers can be a great addition to the Christmas spirit. Many households may have their favourite ‘leftover traditions’ from round two of Christmas dinner on Boxing Day to a ‘boxing day soup’. Whatever your tradition, it is nice to not worry too much about cooking in the days following the Christmas festivities. Look into ways that you can use leftovers in creative ways, which will give you more incentive to eat them all up. Whether this is a soup made up of the leftover vegetables, or the ultimate Christmas sandwich, or a ‘bubble and squeak’ style meal – look up different ideas and be sure to not let leftovers go to waste.
If there is simply too much in the way of leftovers or you do not fancy eating it all, why not give them away? If you are having guests over, send them off with their own special Christmas batch of leftovers. Or give a Christmas dinner to a neighbour that may live alone or be feeling the pinch. There are also plenty of food sharing apps or sites that can help you distribute leftovers to welcome homes. If you have any spare cans or boxes of food that have been unopened, you can donate these to a food bank. If you can find somewhere to donate food, it is also a lovely way to spread some extra generosity and Christmas cheer during the festive season and after such a challenging and trying year for many of us.