Starting 13 December
There’s less than three weeks to go until Christmas Day, Love Christmas hate Waste started 5 weeks ago and we’re finding it hard to believe how quickly the time has gone! This week we’re going to take you through a few top tips to make your festive menu delicious whilst saving you money and importantly avoiding throwing away lots of food that could have been eaten.
You’ve probably been thinking about Christmas dinner for weeks now, or possibly avoiding thinking because the thought is so daunting. And what about the days between Christmas and New Year, how will you avoid turkey sandwiches every day? Considering the average household will spend about £170 on food this Christmas, let’s have a go at getting the most value from the food we are going to spend so much money, time and effort on this year. So where to start…
Your festive meal planner
Before you do anything else you need to know how many people you’ll be cooking for, and when you’ll be eating at home over Christmas. Whether it’s dinner for 2 or 10, or you’ll be eating away from home most days, knowing in advance what your plans are will help to make sure that you have the right amount of food at home. Use our Festive meal planner (850 downloads) to help you keep track of when you’re eating at home, who will be eating and what you’re planning to eat.
Planning for the big one – Christmas dinner
We like to think it pays to plan, so first things first – what do you want to cook and eat? Maybe a traditional turkey with all the trimmings (stuffing, brussels sprouts, parsnips, roast potatoes, Christmas pudding) or perhaps you want steak, salmon, duck or a nut roast.
The next question is how many do you have to feed? Once you know how many adults and children you’ll be cooking for, you can work out if what you want to cook will work for you. You should also find out if your guests have any strong likes and dislikes, and if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions such as coeliac, vegetarian or diabetic. Afterall, it’s very frustrating to find out on the day that you need to make something else to feed the one person who can’t eat what you’ve spent hours cooking.
Give your guests a call, text or drop them email with your planned menu to find out what they’ll eat. If no one will eat sprouts or Christmas pud is it really worth buying them?
Turkey for 20!
If you already know how many you’ll be cooking for, you can work out how big your turkey, ham, goose or chicken needs to be to feed you all for your big Christmas dinner and provide leftovers for a couple of days. If you have a local butcher you can order your meat now to pick up just before Christmas. Supermarkets also have frozen meat available to buy if you want to get it now but make sure you have enough space to store it before you bring it home. To find out exactly how big you need to buy use the love food hate waste portion planner for guidance but here are a few sizes to get you thinking.
- A 6kg turkey will feed 8 people with leftovers.
- A 7kg ham will feed twenty people.
- If you don’t want leftovers then consider just getting a turkey crown, a 1.4kg crown will provide enough for 8 people and there’s no carcass that needs to be thrown away afterwards.
- If you want something a little different a 5kg goose will serve 8 people.
If you need a little help deciding ask the in-store butcher, check in the Christmas magazines or look online. Whatever meat you cook, make sure to check the cooking instructions so that you know how long you’ll need to put it in the oven for and before you buy it check your oven is big enough!
The love food hate waste portion planner can also give you a few ideas for the other items you need for Christmas dinner, simply put in what you want to cook and how many you’re cooking for and it will tell you how much you need. For example, if you’re cooking for two adults and two children, you’ll need 32 Brussels sprouts, if everyone likes them but if you can only stomach two each only buy 8 or none at all!
We’ve got some great leftovers recipes for you next week, so if you have extra don’t worry, you can make some more delicious meals without having to re-create Christmas dinner or head out to the shops again.
Make a shopping list
You know what you’re eating, who’s coming to dinner, what they’ll eat and how much you need so it’s time to make a shopping list. There’s been festive food in the shops for weeks now, and it certainly looks very tempting. It’s perfectly possible to do your Christmas and New Year shopping now, to leave you time to relax closer to the day. You could even set aside some time this weekend to get started!
Before you go to the shops make a shopping list. There aren’t many people who stick completely to a list but having one can save you time and money.
- Save money – If you know what you want to buy you’ll not feel as tempted by the special offers or buy extra things you don’t actually need or already have.
- Save time – You’re unlikely to forget a key item and have to go back for it when everyone else is doing their shopping and if you write your list in the order you’ll find items in the shop you won’t spend as much time wandering around looking for what you need.
- Save the environment – Sticking to your list will reduce the amount of extra food you have leftover which may end up in the bin and the number of trips you need to make to the shops.
Check your store cupboard as well. They are things we always seem to have at home that help make fabulous meals out of just about anything, over Christmas when you could have unexpected guests, not be able to get to an open shop or need to spice up the leftovers you’ll need these things more than ever. So make sure you’ve got a selection of dried herbs and spices, tins of beans and chopped tomatoes, rice/pasta/noodles, and bread and frozen vegetables in the freezer. Check out our list of Store cupboard staples (664 downloads) or visit Love Food Hate Waste for the items for inspiration.
Have you got enough space?
One thing before you dash out to the shops, how much storage space do you have for the food you’re about to buy? If you need to clear out some freezer or cupboard space try eating all your meals using food you’ve already got (see week 1: buy nothing) for a few ideas to help.
If you’re not eating at home
Big sigh of relief? You can help out your hosts by letting them know of any dislikes, allergies or restrictions and if you want to take some food or drink to help them out find out what they’d like you to bring to help with their planning. Then sit back and plan your food for the rest of the festive period.
Something you could do this week
Get in to the festive spirit as you choose something to do this week, by putting on your Santa hat and some Christmas music! Now onto the list!…
1. Start planning your Christmas meals
Get yourself comfortable and put aside half an hour to look through cook books, go online for some festive inspiration, watch your favourite TV chef or to remind yourself of what’s in those family favourites. Then using our Festive Meal Planner start writing down where you’ll be, if you’re cooking at home work out how many for and what you think you’ll be making.
2. Write your Christmas food shopping list
Check your meal planner, cupboards, fridge, freezer and list of likes and dislikes. Gather together any vouchers you have and put them with your list in one place. If you’re not going shopping for a few days put it on the fridge and when you finish up something that you’re going to need more of, add it to the list straight away.
3. Have a buy nothing meal
Clear out some more space for the food you’re about to buy. Try to have at least one meal using items you’ve already got at home. If you’re going out for a dinner this week and you don’t finish everything ask to take the leftovers home and eat them for lunch or dinner the following day.
4. Make and store some festive food
If you have some time this week, and are feeling inspired, start cooking! Just remember to keep a note of what you’ve already made, so that you don’t end up buying more.
5. Share a festive food tip with Love Christmas Hate Waste or ask for some ideas!