Christmas is traditionally a time for generosity, indulgence and feasting. We love to give gifts, feed our friends, have a wee Baileys or [insert drink of choice] and eat our own bodyweight in trifle before a good old festive snooze.

According to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), the food and drink wasted in the UK increases by a massive 80 per cent over the Christmas period, with a staggering 230,000 tonnes of food binned during the festive season.

That’s the equivalent of 18,300 Lothian Buses number 10 double deckers!

The not-for-profit, government-funded group estimates that this may be worth £275m.1

So, here are some golden rules to giving the gift of tasty food this Christmas while avoiding waste:

Plan ahead: Make a shopping list and plan what to have, as well as what to make from the leftovers. Check your cupboards and freezer before you go to avoid buying extras that you’ve already got in stock.

Dates for your diary: Keep an eye on ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates so you know what to use up first. Also check if foods can be frozen to preserve freshness. Remember, ‘best before’ dates are for quality – food can be eaten after this date; ‘use by’ dates are for safety so you should eat, cook or freeze food by the date shown.

Portion perfection: A big factor in avoidable food waste is getting portion sizes wrong. We often serve large portions at Christmas – try putting everything on serving plates so everyone can serve themselves what they want – this means more usable leftovers and less waste on your plate.

Love your leftovers: Leftovers are a staple part of the festive period in many households, but lots of food still gets thrown away. Try using up mash and roast veg in a seasonal bubble and squeak, using your cheeseboard leftovers to liven it up. Or make a creamy sauce for your leftover turkey and veg and serve with spuds or in a pie… check out more Christmas leftover recipes on Love Food Hate Waste.

Storage solutions: After our festive dinner lots of us don’t even want to look at food for a while, but before your retire to the sofa do take the time to cover up leftover food to keep it fresh. Store leftovers in the fridge and even in the freezer – cooked veg, cheese, bread and even gravy all freeze well, and if you’re getting sick of turkey you can freeze it too! Most foods can be frozen right up to the use-by date and only need to be used within 24 hours of defrosting. Go for reusable Tupperware type containers for storage rather than cling-film or tinfoil to really minimise waste.

Scottish households throw away a whopping 566,000 tonnes of food waste every year - that’s 45,000 double deckers to you and me. Avoidable food waste costs all of us living in Scotland in total nearly £1 billion annually – the equivalent of £430 per household. According to Zero Waste Scotland, each of us throws away an average of 120 kilogrammes every year – equal to chucking twenty large Christmas turkeys straight in the bin per person!

Cutting out the avoidable food waste (that’s food that could have been eaten) would be the same as taking one in five cars off the road in Scotland. We can also reduce our ‘food footprint’ by buying local, seasonal food. Scotland has a wealth of great produce right on its doorstep, and you can find it in farmers markets, local shops and even supermarkets.

So, are you already planning your Boxing Day Bubble and Squeak? We hope so!

Is your new year’s resolution to be less wasteful? Visit our page on reducing waste at home for lots of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in everyday life.

Christmas Bubble and Squeak recipe.

Ingredients:

Leftover mash, roast spuds, carrots, sprouts, even stuffing!
Salt and pepper
A little oil for the pan

You could also add:
Leftover roast meat (chopped into bitesize bits)
Leftover cheese (chopped or crumbled)
Leftover cocktail sausages and bacon (chopped if you like)

First chop everything into manageable chunks and mix it all together with the mash in a large bowl. If your mixture seems a bit wet you could add some leftover breadcrumbs to help it all hold together.

Heat the oil and put the mixture into a wide, heavy frying pan. The trick is to leave the mixture alone, letting a crunchy crust form on the bottom. Then attack it with a wooden spoon, turning the mix (it’ll break up, don’t worry about this) so that a new layer of bubble and squeak is touching the bottom of the pan. Repeat until your mix is flecked with golden crunchy bits and your bubble and squeak is piping hot throughout. Then form into individual burger-shaped portions and serve.

If you’ve kept any leftover gravy then reunite it with the bubble and squeak for a delicious thrifty meal.

Blog links:

1: http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2011/12/food-waste.cfm

2: http://www.scotland.lovefoodhatewaste.com

3: http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk

4: http://www.changeworks.org.uk