Top 10 tips on how to make the most out of your Christmas feast

  • Sticking to your shopping list and organising your fridge are top tips to help reduce your festive waste
  • UK homes throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink every year, costing the average household £470 a year

Christmas feast on table

Sticking to your shopping list, organising your fridge and learning to love ugly fruits and vegetables are just some of the top tips which will help you to make the most of your Christmas feast this festive season.

The average UK household wastes £470 a year throwing away food that could have been eaten according to the Foods Standards Agency. This equates to seven million tonnes of food and drink every year – with the festive season a particularly wasteful time.

To help people make the most of their Christmas feasts this year, a PhD student from the University of Sheffield, has made a list of the top 10 ways to reduce your festive waste.

Akis Bimpizas-Pinis from the University’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures has put together advice on why we should ignore multipack offers, use cooking guidelines to avoid cooking mishaps and how to interpret use by dates.

“Christmas is almost upon us and everybody looks forward to the warmth, joy and even revelry of the annual family gathering,” said Akis.

“But beyond the tinsel joviality of festive pleasantries, for many people in the Western world Christmas has turned into an opportunity for unabashed gluttony forgoing any sense of moderation.

“It’s really important that as well as sharing joy with our loved ones at Christmas we also show some love to the environment as well.”

Top 10 tips on how to make the most out of your Christmas feast:

  • Plan well in advance
    Plan your Christmas dinner based on the number of expected guests. Make a decision on the menu well in advance and compile a detailed grocery list. Make sure you check your kitchen cupboard, fridge and freezer before your shopping trip. You wouldn’t like to buy something you already have or miss an invaluable ingredient. A good idea would be to break down your list into several ones for each different store you need to visit in order to avoid confusion and optimise your shopping route. Don't forget to ask your guests in advance about any special dietary requirements.
  • Stick to your shopping list
    Once in the supermarket, ignore all temptations. Festive discounts and multipack offers may be eye-catching, but you are try to remember you are there just for the items on your list. Better opt for small size or divisible packs, as it would be easier to freeze your surplus food if you do not use it in time.
  • Don’t let the labels confuse you
    The only label referring to food safety is ‘use by’ – meaning that food can be eaten up to the end of the date on the label, but not after it. ‘Best before’ labels indicate that food will be safe to eat after the date on the label, but it may lose its flavour, colour or texture.
  • Learn to love ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables
    Just because they look wonky, it doesn’t mean that they are less tasty or nutritious. Supermarket standards for size, shape and colour are responsible for a large proportion of annual food waste. Sprinkle some love on them and make a difference in 2018.
  • Organise your fridge.
    Your Christmas feast provides a great opportunity to do that. Take everything out, clean the shelves and make sure that you have placed leftovers and food items about to expire on the front shelf. Do not forget to keep your fridge temperature at or below 4° C.
  • Store food properly before cooking
    Follow storage instructions when it comes to pre-packed fresh produce and make sure you store meat and poultry safely in the fridge or freezer in order to avoid food poisoning. Store raw meat and poultry in clean, sealed containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Always keep cooked meat separate from raw meat. Fruits and vegetables are kept fresh for longer in a cool, dry place outside the fridge.
  • Follow recipes
    Cooking guidelines are there to help you avoid mishaps. Recent reports estimate that a third of UK households bin Christmas turkey and sprouts before the feast due to poor culinary skills. If you do not trust your cooking skills, you can always invite a friend for a co-cooking session. Sharing is caring when it comes to food!
  • Measure your portions
    Overfilling one’s plate is a habit you can overcome by serving an average portion of main or side dishes and offering a top-up if your guest approves. Another option is to use portion size plates. Under this system, guests can return to the buffet to take more, but are limited to the amount of food they can carry on a plate.
  • Share your surplus food
    Distributing your feast surplus to your family and guests is a common practice. Even better, consider donating it to a local charity or food bank to help people who need it the most.
  • Look for leftover recipes
    In case of leftovers, do not worry. Did you know that you could use leftover cooked turkey or chicken to make tarts? Or combine cooked turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing in pasties? ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ offers a wide variety of Christmas leftover recipes and tips. Make sure you freeze them before cooking to avoid waste.

The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures is an ambitious and innovative collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. Our sustainability research creates knowledge and connects it to policy debates on how to build a fairer world and save natural resources for future generations.

For more information about the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield please visit Grantham Centre

Additional information

The University of Sheffield
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For further information please contact:

Amy Huxtable
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859