Waste not want not this Christmas

Love Food Hate Waste champions Martin and Judy,who are trained volunteers willing to share their kno

Love Food Hate Waste champions Martin and Judy,who are trained volunteers willing to share their knowledge and experience in reducing food waste. - Credit: Archant

Help the environment and save money this Christmas by cutting down on food waste with these top tips.

Christmas is a costly time of year – and that's a fact.

The Centre for Retail Research found that the average household spend at Christmas last year was £775 – and £216 of that was spent on food and drink. One-third of our rubbish bins contains food waste, either because we buy too much food or we cook too much.

It can be even harder to cut down on food waste over Christmas when our usual timetable is disrupted and we're entertaining more guests.

By not wasting food, an average person can save £200 a year, rising to £700 for a family. Whether it's the thought of all the planned and unplanned visitors, fluctuating household numbers, shops closing for a day or the overwhelming need to have things in stock 'just in case' it's not surprising that one third of us think that we are likely to waste more food at Christmas than at any other time of year.

For more information on how to make the most of your food, visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

Martin and Judy are both Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) champions, having joined the scheme earlier this year when it was set up by Norfolk County Council. The champions are trained volunteers who are willing to share their knowledge and experience in reducing food waste with others.

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Martin and Judy, who settled in Norfolk after a period abroad in Australia, were already part of the Master Composter volunteer scheme when they heard about LFHW champions.

'Not wasting food is important to us,' says Judy. 'You see how much resource is put into making food. When we lived in Australia there were campaigns to highlight how valuable water is and this stuck with us. It's the same with food, we shouldn't be throwing it away.

'We enjoy talking to other people and sharing our interest in composting and reducing food waste. We particularly enjoy attending events and talking to people, as they are really interested in ideas and solutions you can offer to help them with their challenges around excess food.'

We asked Martin and Judy how they will be preparing for a waste-free Christmas this year and what they will be doing with their festive leftovers.

Where do you start when it comes to preparing food for Christmas?

'We always make a list before shopping,' says Martin. 'Last year we had 11 people to dinner so we planned our meals. When you are not used to cooking for so many people it is difficult to multiply quantities up correctly and you tend to get carried away – invariably to end up with leftover food. Don't plan meals with fresh ingredients for the next few days – there will be leftovers, so use them up! Push the boat out on Christmas Day but plan to use it afterwards.'

What can people do with their leftovers, do you have any recipes that you usually use?

'We enjoy a toasted turkey sandwich on Boxing Day, with cranberry sauce. We also use up leftover meat and vegetables on a 'Christmas dinner pizza'.

'Buy or make some pizza bases, add a base layer of sauce then top with leftovers and a sprinkling of cheese if you like! We also make lots of soups, peelings are great in stocks and you can also use ingredients such as broccoli stalks which cook up and blend in to add great flavour.'

What about food that is getting close to its use by date?

'From the champion training I learnt a lot about what I could freeze,' says Martin. As a result not a lot of food gets thrown away in this house!

'For example you can freeze leftover gravy for another day and previously frozen meat can be frozen again once it has been cooked.

'People often forget that, in our role as champions, we can pass on tips like these.'

Do you have any other tips that would help people get ready for Christmas?

Judy suggests: 'Make plenty of room in your freezer before the big day by eating up meals that you have previously prepared or bought. You will need plenty of space to store the leftovers from your Christmas meal to stop them going to waste.'

And you're also keen composters?

'We have two wormeries at home,' says Martin. 'We add food peelings, tea bags and coffee grounds and are looking forward to getting some compost out soon. One of them is nearly ready.'

Find out more about LFHW champions at www.recyclefornorfolk.org.uk

Sponsored by Norfolk County Council.