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Here's how to reduce food waste this Christmas week

Don’t bin those leftovers.

Image: Shutterstock/gkrphoto

YOU MIGHT BE lucky enough to be planning a big Christmas meal for tomorrow.

But will you have lots of leftovers – and will you end up binning them or working them into their own feast?

The Environmental Protection Agency is drawing people’s attention to food waste this Christmas and new year. It says that in a recent EPA Stop Food Waste survey, half of the people surveyed noticed more food waste over the Christmas period than at other times of the year.

“This is one of the most important climate actions we can take, and it saves money,” says the EPA of cutting down on food waste.

It found that 70% of people surveyed admitted that they buy extra food ‘just in case’ they have unexpected visitors.

Instead of overbuying, store food properly so it lasts longer, and use your leftovers, advises the EPA. It also points out the supermarkets won’t be closed for long during the festive season, so there might not be that much of a need to stock up.

People surveyed said the most wasted food in their homes are brussels sprouts (32%), meat (30%) and potatoes (25%).

Which is why the EPA suggests:  “Why not make new traditions by not preparing foods that nobody really likes.”

There are those who love a bit of leftovers though, as certain foods taste better the next day. A total of 72% of people surveyed said cold meats are their number one leftover. Most people surveyed prefer making sandwiches (65%) with their leftover turkey and ham after Christmas, while 25% of those surveyed make leftover turkey curry.

People surveyed also said that stuffing (13%) and mince pies (21%) were least likely to go to waste, while only 7% of those surveyed eat vegetable leftovers.

Cutting down on waste

The EPA suggests that people wanting to save leftovers should try ‘family style’ serving of food. Rather than plating individual meals, allow everyone to serve themselves from large serving dishes. This is because people are more inclined to save leftovers from a serving dish than off someone’s plate.

Food safety kicks in here – once cooled, store leftovers in the fridge. Generally, you want to get the food into the fridge within a two-hour window, but as soon after it has cooled the better.

Mary Frances Rochford, EPA Programme Manager said: “Christmas is of course a time for celebrating, but also a time when a lot of food is wasted. By taking some simple steps to manage our food, we cut the carbon footprint of the festive season; and also trim our shopping bills. This year we are encouraging every household to take steps to reduce their festive food waste and to always use the leftovers – especially on St Stephen’s Day which we call ‘National Leftovers Day’.”

The EPA is asking people to make a New Year’s resolution to focus on food waste by:

  • Buying only the food you need
  • Storing food properly and
  • Always using the leftovers.

The EPA has ‘12 Days of Christmas Recipes’ and ‘Luscious Leftovers’ booklets on www.stopfoodwaste.ie.

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