Make Your List this Christmas (mindful of food waste too…)

It’s that special time of year

25th December is on its way. Christmas! Even if sort-of super organised, you might begin to panic a little -  time is marching on. Seven days to go. Presents? Sorted! But now, the dreaded Christmas food shop. All those extras needed for the meal of the year on Christmas day together with ample supplies for the days that follow.

Be like Santa

We mostly repeat the same menus across the Christmas holidays each year, yet so few of us plan well enough - we panic, we overlook essentials and double up too much. Buying more than we use is a Christmas tradition we could all end. Every year Santa Claus makes his list and he checks it twice. Plan your menu, and write your list before going shopping this year, that way, just like Santa Claus, you won’t overlook anything. You will destress too, and save yourself time and money.   

Planning well

Take some time this week, maybe right now, and think through your menu for each day. It might take several attempts, but be sure that you get it done. Estimate how much fresh food you will need and add those items to your list. Perhaps cooking one or two dishes using mainly store cupboard or frozen ingredients, or dishes that can be prepared well in advance. You might like to try this recipe for Sweetcorn Chowder https://youtu.be/CjMCYbf2CzM - you can create a lovely light meal that might be enjoyed on Christmas Eve or you could serve it as a starter on Christmas day.

Storage

Knowing where best to store the fresh produce you buy will help to maintain food at its best, and it is also key to avoiding food waste. Do you know what items should be kept in the fridge? What produce lasts longer if stored in a cool, dark place? Or which fruits and vegetables should be kept separate from others so as to stop them spoiling quickly? Check out the ‘A-Z of Foods’ at www.stopfoodwaste.ie and discover lots of valuable tips and advice.   

The Leftovers

Not all food can be bought in just the right quantities, and you can’t be certain about who will eat what or when. Even with your best efforts, you will surely have leftovers. There are so many on-line recipes that offer simple ways to use up leftover turkey and ham. You might crave something completely different by Day 2, so it’s good to know that almost anything can be frozen. If freezing leftover meat, wrap well and place in a suitable container for freezing. Turkey and ham are great sandwich options once everyone returns to school and work, but remember to slice first and then freeze in appropriate portion sizes. Surplus uncooked fruit and vegetables could be made into smoothies and soups, and these too could be frozen for another time. 

About 20% of food waste is considered unavoidable (such as banana skins, chicken bones, egg shells, etc). It’s important to be mindful of how you handle this and any other food waste. The food waste thrown into your general bin goes to landfill and is harmful to the environment, and you probably suffer higher bin charges. Recycling food waste in your brown bin or composting it at home will reduce greenhouse gas emissions which helps to tackle climate change. 

So whether you’re seeing out 2018 or welcoming in 2019, being mindful of food waste and considering ways you could adapt to new habits would be of significant benefit to us all. 

Wishing you a very happy Christmas.