Food Waste Tips

Food Waste Tips, Life & Style, Special Occasions

Food Waste at Christmas – Easy Ways To Reduce Waste

Christmas festive food

Looking for tips to reduce your food waste this Christmas? I’ve got all the tips for you right here to slim your food waste bin, to help save money and the environment.

Christmas is the perfect time to relax with a glass of something nice and to treat yourself to a host of culinary delights.  A festive dinner with all the trimmings. Christmas cake. Mince pies. These are just some of the goodies you can expect at this time of year.

With around 4.2 million Christmas dinner servings binned each year in the UK, it makes good environmental and financial sense to reduce our food waste at this time of year. Thankfully, while some leftovers are inevitable, a little bit of preparation can mean you waste less food this festive season.

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Christmas

Image of festive biscuits and cookies with a blue text box that says how to reduce food waste this Christmas to help save money and the environment

Here are our top five ways to reduce your food waste this Christmas:

1. Know Who You’re Cooking For

If you’re preparing Christmas dinner this year then it can be tempting to cook far too much out of fear someone will go hungry.  This can lead to an awful lot of uneaten food.

While you don’t want your guests to starve, it’s important to think carefully about who is coming and work out roughly how much they will eat.  As a general rule of thumb, cook enough food to make up one spare dinner. This is just in case somebody is particularly hungry. However, there’s no need to go over the top. With all the extras on offer at Christmas, it’s unlikely many people will be asking for an extra portion!

This is also a good time to think about what people actually like to eat. Whilst it may be traditional to eat sprouts at Christmas, do you and your family actually like sprouts? If not, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave them off the menu. Traditions may be traditions. However, if they lead to food waste, then it’s time to make your own new traditions!

2. Use Your Freezer to Avoid Food Waste This Christmas

Fresh produce is highly perishable and must be eaten up before its use-by-date to avoid food poisoning. Frozen food, on the other hand, lasts for a long time. The good thing is that it can be whipped out whenever you have unexpected visitors that need feeding.  

Freeze fresh food that you might need at Christmas. And by stocking up on such items you won’t have to worry about running out of food. Nor will you need to throw away things that have gone off in the fridge. Using this approach also means you can stock up well in advance of the big day. This handily also allows you to spread your budget.

You can also utilise your freezer to store freezable leftovers. Freshly made soup that you have too much of, for example, can be frozen to be enjoyed later.

3. Buy Fresh Produce Daily

Instead of buying vast quantities of fresh produce that might not get used and consequently end up in the food waste bin this Christmas, try purchasing fresh produce such as milk, yoghurt, or cream on a daily basis.  Depending on where you live, your local shop may only close on Christmas Day itself, so there really isn’t any need to bulk buy short-dated foodstuff.

If you do prefer buying products in bulk, look for items with long use-by-dates such as long-life milk. Or alternatively, opt for powdered alternatives, like packet sauces, instead.  What’s more, make sure you store all food correctly so it doesn’t go off.  While avocados, for instance, must be kept in the fridge, garlic and potatoes will last longer in a cool dark cupboard.

4. Be Careful of Supermarket Deals

At this time of year, you can expect to see all kinds of buy-one-get-one-free deals and other bargains in the supermarkets. Whilst these deals are tempting, the golden tip to avoid food waste at Christmas is not to buy anything you don’t need.  

It’s easy to say “sod it, it’s Christmas”, before placing the items in your shopping trolley. However, if you buy things in bulk that you’d never normally eat at any other time of the year, these might end up in the bin.  

If you do find yourself with unopened packets in the cupboards that you’re never going to consume post-Christmas, consider taking them to a soup kitchen or your local food bank. This is with the caveat that the items are in date and you’re sure it’s something that can be used by the food bank or soup kitchen. If in doubt, do phone up to ask before turning up with donations.

5. Make the Most of Leftovers

For my last tip on how to reduce food waste at Christmas, whatever you do, don’t throw away those Christmas dinner leftovers.  Everything from carrots and broccoli to cauliflower and roast potatoes can be made into a delicious chunky broth or soup. And any leftover Christmas dinner will be mouth-wateringly delicious the next day when served in a hot bread roll.  

Some aspects of Christmas Dinner can also form part of a Boxing Day buffet. Meanwhile, if you peel too many spuds and decide not to cook them all, save them for a stew or curry sometime over the Christmas period.  Many seasonal types of meat and veg can be easily thrown into a slow cooker and turned into a scrumptious meal.

Christmas is a great time to socialise with friends and family enjoying a wide range of delicious foods. And while it wouldn’t be the holiday season without good food, with these handy food waste tips you can help reduce your food waste whilst having fun.

ps: don’t forget to check out my vegetarian Christmas dinner ideas, or my full guide on how to have an eco-friendly Christmas.

Food & Drink, Food Waste Tips

What to do With Leftover Wine

what to do with leftover wine

I’ll admit, the question, what to do with leftover wine, doesn’t really pass my lips very often. However, I have found myself asking that question with greater frequency this year, as gatherings with friends and family have been curtailed.

As the only one in my household who likes wine, a whole bottle of red wine is not something I can drink by myself in one sitting. In younger years, oh yes, with abandon! But now, my head aches in advance at the mere thought of drinking a whole bottle. I try so very hard (so hard!) not to waste wine, but sometimes it just can’t be helped.

Is Wine Waste A Problem?

The thing is wine waste is a surprisingly large problem. According to research by UK wine merchant Laithwaites, the average British household throws away around two glasses of wine a week on average. This is the equivalent of 624m bottles nationally, which is enough to fill 333 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Whilst the carbon footprint of producing and transport wine is hard to calculate, it undoubtedly does have a footprint. See this guide to ethical wine for help choosing a better bottle. Ethics aside, it’s also important to minimise food waste where we can.

How long does wine last for once opened?

First off, it’s important to know how long opened wine can be stored for, before going bad. As a student I used to work in bars and so the following guide is imprinted in my brain:

  • Opened white wine lasts for up to three days in a refrigerator.
  • Opened Prosecco or Cava again stores for up to three days in the fridge.
  • Champagne can store for up to five days in the fridge.
  • Rose wine can store for up to five days in the fridge
  • Open red wine lasts for up to five days stored in a cool dark place, such as a cupboard.
  • Fortified wines, such as sherry and port, are best if drank within 28 days of opening, and stored in a cool dark place.

In all cases, make sure you replace the cork, lid if it’s a screw top, or use a bottle stop.

tips on using up leftover wine

What to do with leftover wine?

If you can’t drink your wine before it goes off – which you’ll know by that classic vinegar smell and taste – then here are some ideas with what to do with leftover wine.

Freeze It

One of the best ways to use leftover wine is to pour it into ice cube trays or muffin trays and freeze it to use in future recipes, such as stews, sauces, or bolognese.

Once frozen, you can pop them out into a container for storage, and then use them in recipes that call for a small quantity of wine. Bear in the mind that because of the alcohol content of the wine, the frozen cubes of wine won’t be as hard as standard ice-cubes made of water. However, they will be solid enough to transfer into a tub or bag.

Cook With It

If you’re planning on cooking with wine straight away then skip the freezing, and proceed straight to cooking. Leftover wine is great way to add flavour to your cooking. Here are five vegan recipes that call for wine:

Mushroom Bourginon

cooking with leftover wine

The Simple Veganista’s comforting autumnal recipe for Mushroom Bourginon calls for red wine to add flavour and depth.

Garlic and White Wine Pasta

vegan recipe for using up leftover wine

The Minimalist’s Baker’s recipe for garlic and white wine pasta with brussels sprouts is high up on my list of recipes to try this winter. I love brussels sprouts.

Red Wine Braised Lentils

leftover wine vegan recipe

This recipe for red wine braised lentils from Give It Some Thyme is another great autumnal dish.

Red Wine Brownies

vegan brownie recipe

Finally, hankering after something sweet? These vegan brownies are made with red wine for added flavour.

Any other tips or recipes for using up leftover wine? Do share with Moral Fibres readers in the comments below. And find more food waste tips this way.