Christmas is a costly time of year. The Centre for Retail Research found that the average household spend at Christmas last year was £775 and £216 of that was spent on food and drink. At a time when we are spending more, we also seem to waste more. One third of us think that we are likely to waste more food at Christmas than at any other time of year. So how can we make the most of our Christmas foods and save money? We are here to help.
One of the ways to reduce stress is to do some meal and menu planning in advance as this saves us both money and time in the long term. We all know that Christmas meal plans can sometimes come unstuck due to anything from bad weather to TV schedules but here are some ideas to help-
Who is coming and when? You might be planning to be away for Christmas so it’s best to work out just how many meals you might need and how many mouths you are feeding.
Take the guess work out of food preparation by using this handy online portion planner. Simply add in how many adults and children are coming and what you are planning to feed them and the planner does the rest. Then make a shopping list.
Just like Santa try making a list and checking it twice. It’s good to remember that we are planning for a holiday, not a six month siege and the shops will be open again soon. A meal plan and shopping list will keep us from overspending and getting in a load of food “just in case”. If you think you need additional stocks of food, go for things that can be popped into the freezer, or that have a good long shelf life.
Party planning can also be difficult. How can we put on a great looking spread without ending up having to bin lots of unwanted foods afterwards? Again, the online portion planner can help. Just put in the numbers expected and it will suggest the number of nibbles needed.
Research shows that time spent making family meals takes on average 38 minutes, so by simply making extra portions for the freezer, you can relax knowing that a meal for another time is already sorted. Take a look at some of our Cook Once, Eat Twice recipes at the bottom of the page.
Better in small portions
Batch cooking doesn’t always mean that we have to cook vast quantities of food or always double up on ingredients. Even one or two extra portions are a handy addition. In fact, food freezes better in small portions, and also gives us the advantage of being able to defrost exactly the number of helpings that we need.
After the Party’s Over
Grazing on lovely leftovers is a fine Christmas tradition allowing the chef some time off as well as making the most of the food that we bought. Leftovers should be wrapped, kept in the fridge and eaten within two days. Using clear takeaway containers can help you see what you have left. Cheese can be grated and frozen, leftover roast dinners can be chopped and frozen for a later pasty filling and soups are quick to make and freeze beautifully.
If you have any unspoiled, unused food then try the new food sharing app Olio – that way you can make sure nothing goes to waste!
Going Away for Christmas?
Here are some quick tips for making sure that food doesn’t go off whilst you do. Before you leave, move fruit from the fruit bowl into the fridge. Any root veg that looks like it won’t last can be par boiled, quickly cooled and then frozen for roasting at a later date. Similarly green veg can be blanched (cooked for two minutes in boiling water, cooled quickly and frozen). Onions can be chopped and frozen in a container with a very good seal, or double wrapped.
Anything that has a ‘use by date’ on that will be up before your return can be wrapped and frozen eg cheese, slices of meat, portions of fish, sausages, half empty jars of pesto or ready meals. Alternatively you may want to make a hearty soup of all your fridge leftovers and freeze it for later.
One final tip – just before you leave, freeze any milk, even in small portions in an ice cube tray to ensure that whatever time of day or night you come home, you will always have enough for a nice cup of tea.
If you have a tip, recipe or idea for time saving cook once eat twice meals, or making the most of your Christmas food, do tell us on our Twitter, Facebook or Contact us page on the website and we’ll happily feature it on our website. The Love Food Hate Waste website is chock-full of recipe ideas – www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes.