When we say ‘Christmas’, what’s the first word you think of?
For some it might be presents; for others family. We’re betting that for many of you it’s food (it is for us, anyway!).
Last year, we brought you a guide to a greener Christmas. Continuing the theme this festive season, we’re honing in on what happens in our kitchens – and what we can do to keep it green while keeping it delicious.
The Best Way to Tackle Food Waste: Avoid It
It’s probably not news to you that the UK’s food waste problem peaks around Christmas each year. With a little planning and know-how, every scrap can go to good use; in December and beyond. Here are our top tips:
Doing a big shop on the fly puts you at risk of overbuying. Go prepared: first, check your fridge and cupboards for what ingredients you already have and what needs using up. Next, make a meal plan and write a list. Our hot tip? Take a snap of your fridge and pantry before you hit the shops so you can double-check before filling your trolley or online basket.
Did you know your fridge should be set below 5°C? Check your settings to prevent unnecessary spoilage. Love Food Hate Waste has great advice on where to store various food items to maintain freshness.
Present your Christmas dinner buffet-style, so people can serve themselves and eat-to-appetite. Anything left can be reused as leftovers and there’ll be less on individual plates destined for the food bin.
While uncooked fruit and veg waste can be composted, even cooked foods can head to a hot composting system, food waste digester, bokashi bin or wormery.
There’s a heated debate amongst the team at Biona about whether leftovers are, in fact, better than Christmas dinner itself. In saying that, we can safely say we’ve had enough roast veg and stuffing sandwiches to last a lifetime, so why not elevate your leftovers this year?
If you’ve got some ultimate Christmas veggies to use up after the big day, simply drizzle with a little olive oil and pop in a tray in the oven at 200°C to crisp up for 15 minutes. Crumble over some feta cheese (or any soft cheese you have) or, and throw on a handful of pine nuts. Want to keep it vegan? Add a few spoonfuls of cashew butter instead! Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Dollop on some cranberry sauce and drizzle on carrot top pesto (see below) for the best veggie traybake of your life! And why not do as Anna Jones does and make use of that ubiquitous Christmas citrus fruit in these to-die-for chestnut pancakes with quick clementine jam?
There are so many more ideas for using up leftovers creatively across the internet – if in doubt, head to Instagram!
Make the most of veg
… by celebrating every bit. All of those roots, stems and skins you’ve been throwing away can be put to good use. Keep a paper bag in the freezer that you can add peels, stalks and ends to. When it’s full, you’ve got the basis of a great veggie stock – just add water, herbs, oil, seasoning and some additional veg (an onion, carrot and celery stalk boost flavour) and simmer. Drain and use or freeze.
Look out for other unsung heroes among your veggie cast-offs. Carrot leaves make a wonderful pesto – use them in our mighty greens pesto recipe for a wonderful quick and nutritious partner for pasta or salad. Avocado pits can be dried and grated to release their potent nutritional value – why not try it in a smoothie! Even juiced lemons can be saved and soaked in white vinegar for a few days for an excellent natural household cleaner.
Keep It Interesting
We all love tradition, but perhaps a part of the festive-food waste issue is fatigue for the same old players.
As always, we’ll be keeping it veggie – minimising meat consumption reduces your carbon footprint and is a great way to make your Christmas kitchen a greener one. Going organic is another, as is seeking out local produce as much as possible.
Here are some vegetarian showstopper ideas to get your juices flowing:
- This quinoa stuffed pumpkin looks stunning in the centre of any table and is so moreish you’ll be lucky if there’s any left for Boxing Day brunch.
- Eschew prawn cocktail starters in favour of crudité served with this gorgeous artichoke and spinach dip.
- In place of a lentil or nut roast (or as a delicious side), try this gloriously balanced celeriac and lentil salad.
- Upgrade your usual roasties for miso-roasted squash and potatoes with almonds and kale.
Do you have any food waste tips and tricks or irresistible veggie recipes to shout about? Let us know on Instagram!