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Christmas dinner around table

Rescue Christmas leftovers and save money

Sounds impossible? On the contrary! With a little bit of planning, you can make sure you’re not chucking hundreds down the drain in unwanted food.

There’s definitely something about Christmas that makes us want to overindulge. From the big turkey to Christmas pudding, chocolates and sweets the cost adds up quickly – and you inevitably don’t end up finishing it all.

We asked Helen White from Love Food Hate Waste for her ideas on how to reduce your waste this festive season.

The value of leftovers

Bubble and squeek is for life, not just for Christmas. We, at The White House, (no, not that one!) had it just the other day. And we made it because we had some leftover roasties, mash and veg from Sunday lunch to use up. As well as tasting absolutely delicious, with a HUGE dollop of piccalilli, it reminded us of Boxing Day. A day when it’s traditional – at ours, anyway - to fry up the remaining roast spuds, sprouts and various veg, mingled in mouth-watering magnificence, serve up with pickles and put our feet up in front of the box.

Christmas can be a costly time of year, and at a time when we spend more; we also seem to waste more.  The Centre for Retail Research found that the average household’s spend at Christmas last year was £775 and £216 of that was spent on food and drink. Love Food Hate Waste found that one third of us think that we are likely to waste more food at Christmas than at any other time of year.

So how can we make the most of our festive food and what can we do to make sure we keep up the good work into the new year and beyond?

Planning is key!

Well, even a little bit of planning can go a long way. Do people really want sprouts? Because if no-one’s going to enjoy them, then you’re going to have a mountain of them mouldering in the fridge come January. Whilst you’re asking: how many people are actually coming for dinner? If you’re worried about the possibility of unexpected guests, cook once and eat twice – so you can whip out that emergency spag. bol. from the freezer, as well as the emergency chairs …

For more top tips and handy hints to reduce food waste (and stress); check out our online guide ‘Getting from Christmas to New Year the Love Food Hate Waste Way’. Needless to say, I’m totally sold on the suggestion of a Bubble and Squeak brunch on the 27th!


Don’t forget these dates

My four-year old is currently and enthusiastically counting down to Christmas, with the help of a chocolate-filled calendar, and as the big day gets closer, I’m also reminded of another date that matters this time of year: the ‘Use By’.

Only 36% of us understand what Use By really means and around half of the good food and drink we waste (worth £5.6 billion) ends up in the bin because we don’t use it in time. The Use By date is there for your safety, so food should not be eaten past this date, but it can be eaten or frozen right up to it.

If the Use By is looming and you simply can’t face any more festive fayre: wrap it, label it (avoiding future Unidentified Frozen Objects) and freeze it. Why not print out our info on date labels and stick it on the fridge to remind you of what those dates actually mean?

Love Food Hate Waste provides oodles of practical advice and by reducing food waste you could save up to £60 a month – that’s £470 for the average household or £700 for a family with children.  Just think what you could do with that next Christmas!

So I hope you’ll join me in a simple promise to make the most of the food you buy this Christmas, to which I will be adding the tasty New Year’s Resolution to use up my leftovers in Bubble and Squeak - all year round!

This is a guest post from Love Food Hate Waste and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about Love Food Hate Waste over on their website

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  • Cecilia Olley / 4 December 2017

    I like to read your advice but never have to apply it.
    1. I believe that fridge management is at the heart of zero food waste in the home. I never have any food to throw away.
    2. Do not decide what to eat before looking in the fridge. Look in the fridge and then decide what to eat and then go shopping to fill the gaps, if necessary.
    3. Use the freezer to store leftovers. Certainly, when I have a full diary and know something will not last until I am next home to use it, I freeze it.