Food at Christmas

The average household typically throws away £480 worth of food over the course of a year, rising to £680 for a family. This Christmas you can easily reduce food wastage and save money by taking a few steps to plan ahead and use up as much leftover food as possible.

Before you plan your Christmas meals, think about how many people you’ll be cooking for and how big the portion sizes should be.

This portion planner covers all sorts of foods and tells you how much you need to cook, so that you can avoid the temptation of buying too much. It might even save you some money too.

The shops are doing their best to tempt us when we’re shopping, so make a list and stick to it. If you find yourselve straying from your list, ask yourself whether you really need it.

Your freezer is great to help preserve any leftovers or ingredients that may almost be past their best. You can freeze packaged food right up until the use by date, so check through the fridge to find those items hiding at the back close to their use by date and transfer it to the freezer to use at a later date.

There are some fresh foods that don’t freeze well so make a note of the use by date and include them in your meal plans before then.

Here are a few things you may need to pop in the freezer over Christmas:

Leftover meat – Package any leftover roast meat in the freezer in usable sized portions. Make sure it is thoroughly defrosted and reheated when you come to use it again. You can freeze turkey, other meat and meals cooked from previously frozen and cooked meat. But once defrosted, you should eat the food within 24 hours.

Root veg (including potatoes) – blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, cool, and freeze in bags or tubs. They can be used for soups, stews or roasted. Alternatively, cook roasties as you would usually, but only cook them for a short while in the oven, till they are just starting to brown. Cool and freeze, then you will have them ready to reheat and finish cooking in the oven when you want.

Cheese – if you have leftover cheese it can be saved before the use by date. Grate, crumble or slice, depending on the type of cheese, before storing in the freezer – then add straight into soups, pasta, lasagne and gratins.

Lemons or limes – before they go past their best, slice them up, lay on a tray in a single layer and freeze. Now wrap in foil. They make easy ice slices to add to drinks. Other fruit can be chopped up and frozen for making smoothies when that New Year health drive kicks in!

Isn’t it always the way that a new recipe calls for an ingredient that you would never usually have. Once you’ve used what you need to, check the use by date and find out if you can freeze any excess. If you need to use it up, find another recipe to make to eat now. You could even freeze what you’ve made so that you have something homemade to eat when you don’t feel like cooking after Christmas!

A good site for keying in leftover ingredients to find new recipes is

But please remember that if you’ve got any leftovers after Christmas dinner it is important to cool them and cover them, ensuring they go in the fridge or freezer within 1-2 hours.

Finally, if you have food that you know that you will just not get round to eating how about giving it to someone who will? The Olio app allows you to share unwanted food with someone else.