Reduce waste this Christmas

Published: 18 Dec 2013

For most of us, Christmas is a time of indulgence, particularly when it comes to food. I'll leave it up to you to decide how much you want to eat (after all, it is a special celebration!), but perhaps all of us should think carefully about how to make sure we don't waste food over the holiday. I remember one year when I had so much food it wouldn't all go in the fridge and I completely forgot I had hung a bag of it near the back door - of course I forgot I had put it there until I found a soggy, completely unusable mush a few weeks later. 
The latest research may show that we are wasting less food than we were 5 years ago, but we still waste nearly 20% of the food we buy (and that's not counting the unusable waste, such as chicken bones and banana skins). 
The Love Food Hate Waste website has lots of great ideas for avoiding food waste and great recipes for using up leftovers and have a great food waste advent calendar at the moment. 
It is so tempting to overbuy at Christmas - for all sorts of reasons. These are some of the reasons I do it: 
- I want to feel really generous, with an overflowing table - it seems the time for plenty. 
- Although the shops are not actually shut for very long (it's only on Christmas day itself that we can't buy things near our house), I always think "How awful if we should run out of anything!" and buy more than I need. 
- I get traditional foods that we only tend to eat over Christmas (Christmas pudding, mince pies, game pie, dates, lots of sweets and nuts…), but I still get the usual things we eat - somehow I don't buy an equivalent amount less of normal things. 
- I'm never quite sure how long people will stay and whether they'll require a second meal after a big lunch followed by lots of indulgent nibbling, so I have the second meal ready 'just in case'. 
You really would think I'd have learned by now - the good thing is that we don't normally actually throw away much food over the Christmas holiday, as we're pretty good at giving it away or cooking interesting dishes with leftovers, but we still eat more than usual at this time of year, which is wasteful in itself. I can feel a resolution coming on….. 
Using up the turkey isn't such a problem for me these days, now our children have children of their own - they are usually only too happy to take cartons of it away after the main meal! But here are some recipes for leftover turkey from the BBC website, just in case (they sound absolutely delicious!) 
Our family favourite when the children were small was blanquette of turkey which the children always insisted on calling 'turkey gunge', even though they absolutely loved it. 
On Christmas Eve we always have a German Christmas meal, cooked by our German son-in-law, who is vegetarian - he does the most wonderful nut roast with sugar-caramelised roast potatoes (courtesy of his Danish mother) and sweet-and-sour red cabbage(I often use sultanas, chopped apple, cider vinegar and honey for this - it's just a question of taste.) 
There's also the evening for the exchange of presents and dancing round the Christmas tree while singing carols - and the tree has real candles in the German tradition (no accidents yet!) 
Here are a few more vegan Christmas recipes from the Cambridge Carbon Footprint website (recipes for a Low Carbon Christmas), including the most delicious nut roast and onion gravy. 
A reminder about the other ways in which we can eat more sustainably: 
- eat less meat and dairy 
- eat seasonal local fruit and veg 
- eat only what you need 
- cook from scratch rather than eating ready meals 
And here are some delicious recipes using winter vegetables (such as spicy sautéed cavolo nero, which I absolutely love) from Cambridge Carbon Footprint, including some from the wonderful Tine Roche of the award-winning Cambridge Cookery School 
Do book now for Food for a Greener Future on February 8th - as well as having talks by national speakers, this will be a great celebration of local food, with demonstrations and tastings. 
Happy holidays - and wish me luck with my resolution not to overbuy this year! 
Courtesy of Bev Sedley at the Cambridge news: 
Read more: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Homes-and-Gardens/Sustainable-food/Happy-holidays-avoiding-the-usual-food-waste-20131217122843.htm#ixzz2nov3a3qn

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