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.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep with a Bump

Growing a baby is a tiring job, which is ironic as there’s rarely a time it’s harder to nod off than when you’re expecting. The first few months of pregnancy are often plagued with sickness, which despite its name is not confined to mornings. The constant nausea causes much nocturnal misery, and plenty of tossing and turning.

Of course, once the sickness wears off bump has usually started to make an appearance. Although it’s a lovely feeling to know baby’s growing well, sleeping quickly becomes troublesome. There are plenty of gadgets available that claim to help with growing tums, here’s a list of some of the best, and most reliable, ways to get a good night’s sleep.

1. A wedge pillow. Designed to support bump when mum’s sleeping on her side (as commonly advised by midwives), wedge pillows have a few alternative benefits. Placed under a head pillow, wedges alleviate acid reflux attacks. Once baby’s made an appearance a similar approach can be used under a changing mat to help with sicky babies who don’t appreciate being flat on their backs.

2. Maternity sleepwear. After 20 weeks bump will grow at an alarming rate, so it’s sensible to buy loose pyjamas and nighties before mum’s bursting out of her old ones. Improvising isn’t advised so buy from a specialist like Heavenly Bump, and don’t be worried, there are plenty of fashionable but cheap maternity clothes available, it won’t break the bank!

3. Cooling spray. Like air conditioning in a can, cooling spray is a life saver when bump turns into a mobile central heating unit. For summer mummies, no amount of open windows will cut it. Similarly, labour wards are kept hotter than the devil’s kitchen, so pack a can of cooling spray in the hospital bag too.

4. A V shape pillow. Placed between the knees a V pillow alleviates pressure on the hips for side sleeping. Alternatively, once baby’s arrived V pillows can be used either as back support to sit up in bed feeding, or as a support pillow for nursing.

5. A foot massage. This is where the ‘gadget’ of a caring partner is invaluable. Whether or not you believe in reflexology, swollen ankles and toes will feel ten times better after a massage. Using a lavender scented moisturiser will help enhance the relaxing experience and, hopefully, mum will be drifting off to sweet dreams in no time.

Boosting a New Mummy’s Confidence

Becoming a parent, especially for the first time, is a huge lifestyle change. Suddenly being responsible for such a lively – and adorable – little bundle of joy can be overwhelming, and it’s easy for a new mummy to feel overwhelmed. After the fuss of the first few days dies down, the realisation that life will never be the same again kicks in.

As amazing as the job of being a mamma is, a common fear for new parents is that they’ll lose their own identity, which isn’t particularly welcomed. Finding a balance between being at the little one’s beck and call and being ‘yourself’ isn’t easy, but there are a few steps of a new baby is baffling enough, however it’s the competitive parents that can be taken to blend the old identity into the new.

The barrage of advice that accompanies the announcement that can really cause grief. Baby groups are brilliant but can quickly seem like an informal pushchair competition. Remember that babies just need to be warm, dry, well fed and well loved: your baby will never care if it’s sat in a second hand pushchair.

Attempting to buy every gadget going will only cause hassle and an empty bank balance. Learning to relax and only buy what’s essential will stop that horrible feeling of competitive parenting, removing another common cause of stress. However, there is no denying that just buying the essentials is an expensive job, so it’s worth buying good value items, though not necessarily the cheapest.

For any glamour puss who’s used to carrying an IT bag not a nappy bag, invest in a practical but gorgeous designer changing bag. Leather changing bags toshow how it’s possible to combine practicality with good looks: every new mother’s dream!

Making time for a daily shower, and ensuring the wardrobe’s stocked with comfortable but fashionable nursing clothes tempts tired newbies out of the familiar trap of a comfy bed or sofa, and encourages mum to start getting out and about, regaining her independence. Those first few trips out with baby are scary, but trying new things little by little means outings to a favourite coffee shop, or visiting friends, are no longer in the past.

Finally, never underestimate the power of a good pair of earplugs. Not only will they allow for some decent sleep when someone else is on baby watch, but they can also be popped in whenever anyone feels the need to be critical – silence is golden.