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Christmas is the time for indulging in whatever food you like, but this often means our eyes are bigger than our bellies. Every single year in the UK about seven million tonnes of food is wasted at Christmas, including two million turkeys, five million Christmas puddings, and 74 million mince pies! The worst part is, most of this was totally edible! Express.co.uk chatted to food waste expert and ODDBOX co-founder Emilie Vanpoperinghe to find out how to avoid wasting food at Christmas.
Food waste is not only a pointless drain on your bank account, it’s terrible for the environment.
The average UK family loses £700 a year to food waste, and this collectively adds up to £14 billion per year.
Food production uses up plenty of fresh water, land and labour, and accounts for a third of global greenhouse gas production.
Nearly one billion people are starving in the world, and they could all be fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe every day.
Reducing food waste is a better solution to climate change than electric cars, solar power and plant-based diets.
The equivalent of 4.2 million Christmas dinners goes straight into the bin during the Christmas season, so what can we do to reduce the figure?
Ms Vanpoperinghe reveals her five tips for cutting down food waste at Christmas.
READ MORE- Sustainable gifts: Best eco-friendly Christmas presents for 2020
Ms Vanpoperinghe stressed how important it is to cater for your numbers.
This year British households are only allowed to mingle with two other households, so you don’t need to go overboard!
She said: “We’ve come to expect mountains of vegetables, free-flowing drinks and a show-stopping centrepiece.
“This can all still be a reality but, with a few calculations, you don’t need to be eating leftovers well into the new year.
“Why not take a moment to consider the quantities needed for the number of guests you’re catering to?
“With all the mince pies and chocolates floating around throughout the day, you can be certain that no one will be going hungry and it will also reduce the amount of work that goes into the preparation!”
Cutting down on what you buy in the first place is an obvious place to start, and you’ll be saving yourself some money too!
A sustainable Christmas isn’t just about wrapping your gifts in reusable packaging or buying eco-friendly crackers and cards.
Ms Vanpoperinghe explained that you can be more sustainable with your food by shopping locally and scrapping plastic packaging.
She said: “We know, with the endless to-dos in the final run-up to Christmas, it might be easiest to run down to the closest supermarket to tick off your shopping list.
“However, there can be a trade-off in the form of the plastic packaging used for portioning and to extend shelf-life.
“Instead, this year, why not shop local and head down to your greengrocers?
“They’ll be fully stocked with your favourite veg in anticipation of the Christmas rush, all loose and ready to be selected in quantities exactly right for the number of guests you’re catering for.
“Bulk stores are also a fantastic source for any dry food and pantry essentials you need.”
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Use peels for gravy
Don’t let your vegetable peels go to waste, they can all be used to create something delicious.
Ms Vanpoperinghe explained: “Sprout leaves, potato peelings, carrot tops… all of these trimmings can be diverted from the compost.
“If you’re prepping your veg in advance, simply pop these peelings into a large saucepan, cover with plenty of water and simmer up over a day to create a delicious, hearty stock you can use as the base for your veggie gravy on Christmas day.
“Otherwise, stick them all in a bag and keep in the freezer to make up your stock another day.”
If it’s veggies you’re left with, you can easily combine them all and make a few servings of vegetable soup.
Ms Vanpoperinghe said: “If you’ve managed to get your serving sizes almost spot on and have just a few portions of roast veg going spare, consider whipping up a batch of ‘Boxing Day soup’.
“Simmer up any leftover trimmings and blend for a warming soup that will get you through those Boxing Day blues.”
Share the spare
There’s nothing worse than being lumbered with leftovers you know you won’t eat, so why not give them a new home?
Ms Vanpoperinghe suggested: “In the event that you still end up with more leftover than you know what to do with, send them to a good home!
“If you’ve been entertaining, tell your guests to come along with a container or two and load them up with a few servings of each dish when they leave.
“Otherwise, OLIO is a fantastic outlet for any food that you’d rather not see go to waste.”
OLIO is a free food sharing app where millions of people give away their food and household items to people who want or need it.
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