Reducing Food Waste at Christmas

Supermarkets base their whole annual account projections on how they perform over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. So it’s not surprising that every household in the land stretches their pennies to try to stock up the larder in December. With money tighter than ever, it’s worth ensuring that nothing goes to waste and making the most of any leftovers.

Everybody knows about cold turkey buffets on Boxing Day, but there are more inventive ways of stretching the food supplies. Freezer friendly food packaging means leftover meat can be saved for days when money’s a bit tighter. There’s hardly a meat offcut that doesn’t lend itself to slow cooking techniques. Boxing Day beef makes a beautiful January goulash, especially useful during the long stretch from the pre-Christmas wages to the end of January payments.

Leftover cold cuts of meat can be made into sandwiches and, with the right sandwich packaging, can be frozen and saved for back to work lunches. Ham and pickle, cheese and onion, smoked salmon and cream cheese: all these combinations freeze really well and mean even small leftovers can escape the fate of the bin.

Vegetables that have already been cooked don’t freeze so well. Instead, refrigerate and use their precooked soft consistency as an advantage point. Christmas day carrots, cauliflower, and boiled new potatoes all suit a lazy vegetable curry. Buy a readymade curry sauce, add the leftover veg, heat well through and serve with naan bread or rice (or both if you’re hungry) for a very easy supper.

The obligatory after dinner cheeseboard often results in a few sad remnants of fromage, where there’s not quite enough of a single type to use on its own. Instead, mix all the little bits together in a white sauce to make an amazing multi-cheese pasta bake. Any spare bacon from the pigs in blankets can be chopped in to the bake to make it carbonara inspired.

Leftover cakes and biscuits can be harder to reuse. Biscuits can be bashed up and made into cheesecake bases; a nice change from all the heavy puds around over Christmas. This is also a handy way to use up leftover double cream or soft cream cheese. A lonely satsuma from the bottom of a stocking can be candied and dried out in an oven to decorate the top.

Everybody loves Christmas but nobody loves the cost. Finding as many ways as possible to make the feasts of the season stretch even further means the year’s started as it should continue: thriftily.

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