Less Haste Less Waste

by Chris Williams

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Hands up if you’re guilty of cramming the fridge and cupboards with “just in case” food for Christmas. Every year I venture forth with list in hand to shop for what I need, but then I actually return home laden down with what I need; what I might need; what I would need…if; plus a few things that I am unlikely to have any use for unless I return to shop for more things to go with them. Sounds familiar? Well this year at the Welsh Menu we’re making a conscious effort to cut down the produce we buy and bin by following the sound advice from the team at Love Food Hate Waste.

The Facts: According to the team at Love Food Hate Waste, we spend, on average, £169 on our Christmas food and drink, but at the same time we’re wasting £50 a month throwing away good food.

The Advice: Plan well and you’ll save money.

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  1. Count down to Christmas by eating food from the freezer. It clears space for leftovers and makes use of what’s already there, saving money in the run up to the celebrations.
  2. Make a simple meal plan so you know who you need to cater for and when.
  3. Check out any recipes that you plan to follow and list the ingredients you need to buy.
  4. Before you go shopping check your cupboards and freezer to see what’s there. Make a list so you only buy what you need and if you’re eating out account for that into the shopping for the week.
  5. If there are tempting Christmas offers and festive treats that you can’t resist, freeze them if you don’t get round to eating them. You can freeze almost any food. If it’s got a ‘use by’ date freeze before the date, defrost and use it within 24 hours.
  6. Freeze leftovers – Stilton freezes really well without grating and can be defrosted for the cheese board, a quiche or soup; potatoes for roasting can be parboiled, covered in fat and frozen; cooked meat, including turkey and ham can be frozen and defrosted for use in casseroles, curries and stews.
  7. Give your leftovers a makeover – Love Food Hate Waste has loads of ideas for using up leftover food this Christmas and we’ve also asked top chef Luke Thomas for a recipe idea so check out our suggestions.

So how am I doing so far? A recent expedition to the bottom of my freezer revealed an array of goodies that had long been forgotten and have now had a new lease of life after being transformed into soups, stews, casseroles and curries. Some items sadly were destined for the food waste bin as even after defrosting I could not determine what they were or how long they had been there.

A foray to the back of the cupboards has also yielded some interesting finds. Juniper berries and chestnut puree will definitely not be on the shopping list this year and as they are still in date I’ll be looking back through my recipes books to see what motivated me to buy them in the first place and subsequently try and use them this year. Stuffing and chocolate torte come to mind!

So far I’ve done quite well resisting the “Seasonal Specials” on offer at the supermarket by convincing myself that my kitchen is not ready to be deluged with festive goodies until it has been deep cleaned and decorated. I do however have to admit to stashing away supplies of those drums of a favourite savoury snack… sorry but a girl can never have too many Twiglets at Christmas.

I’ve started my food shopping list and included store cupboard items that will be used to create some of our leftover recipes. I’ve also made sure that if I’m going to be freezing leftovers I’ve got sufficient containers – pouring turkey soup into a food bag is never a great idea so I’m keeping any plastic containers that can be reused rather than disposing of them in the plastics recycling.

So I reckon so far so good with the food planning – it’s under control and on schedule. Now it’s just the presents to get sorted!

For more advice and tips from Love Food Hate Waste visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com