Happy Twixmas all, I hope it’s been a good one for you and if it hasn’t I wish you a peaceful end to the year now.
I’ve had a lovely festive break both hosting at home and guesting with the parentals and am now settling in to a few solid days of leftovers and kids TV. Infact this is what brings me to my keyboard today, no, not how Ryan Reynolds voicing a racing snail has guilted me out of slug pellet use, but leftovers.
Hands up who had exactly the right amount of food in for Christmas Day and Boxing Day and is now back to three nutritionally balanced, veg heavy meals a day? No? That’s what I thought.
We are almost all guilty of it when preparing for a feasting occasion, it’s easily done. Unless you have eight carnivores and a comparatively ‘small’ turkey you probably had too much meat and there is always at least three portions of veg left to go cold on the special festive serving platter. That’s before we even get to The Cheese Board which, in many houses, is hauled out some time after the Queen but before Poirot only to remain untouched by even the most self destructive of stomach stretchers. At my Dad’s this year the cheese was unsullied until about 8 on Boxing Day night, when my step mother was found wandering the halls, wringing her hands and declaring that someone had better come and eat some of this ****ing cheese right now…..Because we hate waste. But we also want to ensure that not only is there enough, there is enough of everything to offer a choice.
After all it’s better to have it and not need it, right? Yes, usually right. So we get too much food in, just incase. We comfort ourselves with the idea of the Bubble and Squeak (that no one ever makes) and promise to send everyone home on the 28th with a few inches of Christmas cake (that they don’t want). Done!
Only it’s never done, there’s always some left. A quick round up in my kitchen this morning has shown we have about half a turkey, a dish of nutroast, a kilo of cheese, half a Christmas cake, a third of a Christmas pudding, half a chocolate pudding, an actual metric tonne of chocolate, chutney, cucumber pickle, carrot pickle, a box of crackers, two cake tins full of brownie, three packs of nuts, shortbread, nugget, rocky road, a pack of marshmallows and more biscotti than any civilised couple can dispose of in a month.
Climbing that food mountain is a daunting task indeed, especially if you are conscious of how well your jeans fit after the festive season, and it can be tempting to just, well, chuck some of it out……..
DO NOT CHUCK EDIBLE FOOD OUT!!!!
There’s a million good arguments against food waste, not least of all the damage done to our environment, including the fuel used to haul your bins away. And no matter how organic or free range you go, there was an amount of animal suffering going into your meat, cheese and smoked salmon blinis and that should not just end up rotting in your food bin until pick up day. So unless your food is off, don’t throw it away. Instead, try some of my festive anti-waste tips and feel good about yourself! Or as good as you can after three days of nothing but champagne and chocolate orange. Oy.
Get Creative: It’s that lovely slowdown time between Christmas and New Year, take some time out with a cuppa and actually read some of the millions of cookbooks you own. Turn those biscuits and tree chocolates into a rocky road or make some jam with all that fruit that no one ate. If you don’t have a cookbook mountain, just get to Google to compare turkey curry methods, I promise you will find something.
Get Social: Suck it up, brush your hair and invite your family back for some dinner. Or if you hate them all too much since the after dinner charades incident on Christmas Eve make a load of turkey sandwiches and meet your mates for a bracing beach walk. Take your neighbour some biscuits and have a good bitch about her at no 58 over a coffee. Think about the older or infirm among us who would really appreciate a chat and another mince pie.
Get Healthy (or healthier). Most unhealthy food is delicious, which means you don’t actually need that much of it to make a tasty dish. Yeah, you can just chomp your way through a two inch wedge of cheddar if you want, or you could stir fry some crispy green veg, toss it in wholegrain mustard then serve with a wee bit of cheese over the top. Seriously, a wee bit, just enough, and you’ll get closer to your five a day without abandoning the comfort of festive dairy produce.
Pack in loads of carrots and parsnips for a hearty soup with those ham and turkey stragglers. Don’t eat a million Lindor balls for breakfast when you can smash up a biscuit (or two) over your no-fat Greek yoghurt to start the day. All those clementines will make a lovely, refreshing salad with some white cheese and a bit of red chilli rather than being left to go green in the bowl. It doesn’t all have to be a high-fat-no-fibre belly ache.
Give It Away: Sealed, non perishable items taking up valuable cupboard and sideboard space will be well appreciated by your local foodbank- so boxes of biscuits you didn’t want, tins of custard that never got opened, that pack of pasta that was swapped for a Christmas Eve chippy, they can all be donated. Most supermarkets have a foodbank point these days, East Of England Co Ops definitely do.
You might also consider your local public servants for a donation of goodwill. Her-In-Law is a nurse and we often unload excess boxes of chocolates and sweets to be shared with her nightshift colleagues. It’s not going to save the NHS, but they will appreciate it more than you might think.
Go Back To Nature: Your furry and feathered neighbours will never judge you for your lack of Christmas lights or for dishing up yesterday’s fridge spoils. Ducks love your old salad bits and veg trimmings (NOT bread!). Garden birds will go nuts for stuffing, meat-fat and leftover crisps. They even like the spicy stuff so don’t spare the chilli peanuts! If you have a badger set anywhere near you they will eat basically everything but don’t try to tempt them into your garden unless you’re fond of holes in the flower beds.
Don’t Buy It In The First Place: Boring, I know, but next time you have a big occasion or just a normal family shop, stop for a second and consider what is going in your trolley. Most fruit and veg can be bought singly rather than bagged up in a quantity that you wont get through (this also helps you to ditch unnecessary packaging). Do you need a family sized yule log when it’s just you, Tim and your diabetic nana for lunch? And as for the buy-two-get-one-free gimmick- it is really a good deal? You’re still spending money on them, were they on your list to begin with? Supermarkets are businesses that are absolutely not in the business of doing you favours, chances are that any loss on that deal is going to be shouldered by the original producer or farmer, not by Mr Every Little Helps. Long term this just puts more of a squeeze on the little man, leading to price rises later which will hurt only you, the humble consumer. If you have fifty people coming for a New Years buffet then by all means, get those four boxes of cheese crackers for a quid, but if mass catering isn’t your thing don’t buy any bulk deals unless you can immediately plan in your head exactly how it is all going to be eaten.
So there is it, the Waste Grinch has spoken. I’m off now to commence Project Turkey Curry. Right after I dust off these mint Lindor balls. Waste is a terrible thing.