How to reduce food waste this ChristmasNovember 22, 2023
Christmas is a time of family, joy and excess. While we’re all for those first two, it’s the third one — excess — that has us scratching our heads a bit, especially when it comes to food and reducing food waste.
According to a study conducted by RaboBank and our partners, KiwiHarvest:
“New Zealand’s overall food waste bill has continued to climb, up 2.6% to reach $3.2 billion, the 2023 Rabobank-KiwiHarvest Food Waste survey says. The value of NZ’s food waste is equivalent to the cost of feeding 688,000 Kiwis for a year.” (Farmers Weekly, 2023)
On a day of excess like Christmas, the food we buy and prepare with good intentions can often wind up becoming food waste. We get it though, it’s hard to know exactly how much food you’ll need. Plus, with the supermarkets closed down for the public holiday, the last thing you want is to run out of food. Read on to discover some handy Christmas cooking tips that’ll help you with reducing food waste this silly season.
Reducing food waste can begin before you even make it to the grocery store. Take some time to sit down and pick every single recipe you’re going to cook on Christmas Day. Try to choose recipes that use similar ingredients so you’re not buying packets, bottles and jars of one-off items that you won’t finish eating. Don’t forget to take stock of the ingredients you already own so that you know you’re not doubling up.
TIP: While you’re at it, have a think about the dishes you want your family or friends to bring and give them the heads up. That way, nobody’s doubling up by bringing the same food.
Store your leftovers properly
Make some space in your freezer and get your tupperware containers ready because leftovers are almost inevitable at Christmas. Freezing your Christmas leftovers not only makes sure your surplus food skips the bin, but it makes life simpler later when you need a quick meal. This is also a great tip to keep in mind when you want to reduce food waste year-round.
Try a new recipe for your leftovers
If freezing leftovers isn’t your style, why not try a leftovers recipe? Sure, you could eat your leftovers as they are, but you might get bored of them before they’re all finished.
Instead, you can experiment in the kitchen by adding your leftovers (think roast turkey, Christmas ham, and roasted veggies) to dishes like curries, pizza and frittata. It’s also a great way to finish off those half-used ingredients that didn’t all make the cut on Christmas Day. You may wind up with some unusual flavour combos, but that’s part of the fun!
Give your leftover ingredients a second life
So you bought ingredients that you didn’t wind up using on Christmas Day. Here’s what you can do to make the most of them (even if you have no plans to cook with them right now) and reduce food waste.
- Lemons and limes – cook with fresh zest and juice for months
- Zest: Wash your citrus and then zest it with a microplane or grater. Spread the zest in a thin layer on a small sheet of baking paper or plate and pop it into the freezer until it’s frozen. Then, store the zest in a ziploc bag for up to three months.
- Juice: Once you’ve zested your citrus, juice it and pour the juice into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Once frozen, you can move the juice cubes to a container and store this in the freezer for up to three months, defrosting the juice at room temperature as needed.
- Herbs – make your own dried herbs
- Spread the leaves and soft stems of your herbs in a thin layer between two sheets of paper towel. Microwave it on high for 30 seconds. Gently toss the herbs and continue to microwave in 15-30 second blocks until they’re fully dried. Smaller, softer herbs like thyme will take a couple of minutes; larger ones like oregano and parsley will take longer. Store your dried herbs in an airtight container at room temperature.