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Column: Have a lot of Christmas dinner leftovers? Make the most of them

The freezer is your friend!

Caitriona Redmond

ARE YOUR EYES more glazed than the ham? Have you opened your belt buckle another notch? Just… one… more… roast… potato.

Christmas is all about abundance and I know that I will have cooked (and bought) far more than we need for the meal on the day itself. That’s not to say that what I’ve cooked is going to waste. Far from it.

Once the food-fog has lifted and there has been a power nap or two on the sofa, it’s time to tackle the leftovers. Here’s what to do!

First things first, invest in a roll of freezer bags. They’ll set you back about €2 in the supermarket.

Vegetables

My absolute favourite thing to do with leftover vegetables is bubble & squeak with a fried egg on top. Stir together mashed potato with chopped, cooked veg, use a little bit of milk to bind it all if it’s too dry, then panfry until crispy on both sides. Serve with a fried egg on top. It’s real traditional Irish food that’s frugal and very, very tasty.

If you have plenty of leftover gravy, stir some meat into the gravy along with cooked vegetables. Pop the lot into a baking dish then sprinkle some leftover stuffing on top. Bake in the oven until crispy and there’s another meal.

Failing all of the above, once cool spoon your leftover vegetables and mash into freezer bags and freeze for another day.

Meat

Well, the ham is the easy part. Chop it up into slices or chunks. Allow about 50g per person as a portion and section out what you have left into meal-sized portions. So, if you have five members in your family, pop approximately 250g into each freezer bag. Once cool, fresh cooked sliced ham will keep for up to two days in the fridge. Everything else can be frozen and reused at a later date.

The turkey takes a little bit more work. The legs in particular have hard sinews so you need to break up the meat into small chunks. It’s not enough just to pull off the meat and store it straight away. Get stuck in and pull all the meat off the carcass. Again allow 50g of meat per person, crucially it doesn’t keep for as long in the fridge, so only leave the cooled meat in there for about a day or so.

Crisps and snacks

The good news is that nachos, crisps, nuts and popcorn have long expiry dates and so will keep grand in sealed containers (or still in their packets) for many months to go. If you have too many crisps or nachos, consider crunching them into crumbs and using the crisps as topping on a pie, though.

Chocolates

Check the expiry dates on the selection boxes – chocolate does go off. On the positive side, it keeps very well in the freezer and makes for an excellent baking ingredient. If you can prise the stockings away from the chocaholic in the family that is.

Dairy 

The secret to making these ingredients last longer in the fridge is not to store them on the door of the cabinet. The door is continuously being opened and closed so it’s more prone to temperature fluctuations. Make sure that they’re stored in the main body of the fridge to get the products to last all the way to their expiry date.

If you have far too many of any of these items, then they will also keep for longer if you stick them in the freezer.

Sweets and alcohol

Do you have any leftover sweets or vodka? Now would be a great time to combine them both together and make a sweet infusion for next year.

Now, where did I put my shopping list for 2015?

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About the author:

Caitriona Redmond

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