The holiday season, most people’s favourite time of year, when chimes are singing, lights are shining, snow is falling and we are warming ourselves with delicious cups of mulled wine and hot chocolate. Nothing could be more perfect. A joyous season that revolves around, happiness, love, friendship, family and the acts of giving. That’s what this holiday season is all about, yet ironically while we give a lot, we also take a lot away. We do that in the form of waste and particularly in the Christmas season we do it in the form of food waste. The most giving time of year, becomes the most wasteful time of year! Starting from all the excess things we buy and the wrapping paper we use, to the food we waste. An interesting fact about wrapping paper is that is is estimated that one country uses enough wrapping paper at Christmas to wrap around the equator nine times, and that’s just one country. But its not just the paper that is the issue, it is also the excessive amount of food we buy, eat, and  eventually throw away. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little effort and planning our holiday season can be a joyous, family affair of our childhood dreams, where we are able to give and help without wasting so much, which means we contribute in another useful way, either by redistributing food or reducing environmental impact. So here are some tips and tricks to give you a less wasteful Christmas!

Picture: © Carbon Trust

Step 1: Think Before you buy!

Think before you buy! Do not get carried away by big ideas and elaborate dinner plans. Before you big Christmas dinner shop, open your fridge, freezer and your pantry, really, truly dig deep! You would be surprised how many food items are hidden in the backs of our freezers and pantries. So, start there, look at what you have and then think about getting other items from the shops.

Step 2: Shop smart!

Shop smart, buy as much local, organic food items as you can, your vegetables don’t have to be perfect looking to taste amazing. Visit local farmers’ markets and see what’s on offer and always buy food that’s in season no matter how much you want to make that berry tart, save it for the summer months and make a chestnut pie instead!

Step 3: Plan your meals!

Plan your meals, don’t get carried away, the biggest problem during the holidays is over eating! People always complain about how much food they have eaten. On the other hand all cooks suffer from the same Christmas dinner phobia, not preparing enough food, but let’s face it, if you made half of the food that you are planning to, you would still have leftovers for the next day! So, plan ahead, check how many people are coming, and make only a little bit of extra food in case you have an unknown straggler, but don’t overdo it! If you are still scared, there are app’s that can lend you a hand, such as Yummly which helps you find numerous recipes or Timer+ which helps you deal with cooking times and temperatures. These are just two of many apps, but there is so much more out there.

Step 4: Don’t overbuy!

Don’t buy into that notion and feeling of Christmas shopping mania, all those special deals and offers on foods you would never normally buy, just because it’s cheaper it does not mean you are going to eat it! Most of these things we buy usually end up in the waste bin anyway, so think about what you need to buy and which of it is just excess!

Step 5: Use those Leftovers!

Those glorious left overs, don’t be scared by them, they are a gift if there ever was one! Leftovers mean there is no cooking and cleaning efforts in the next few days and you know that food is good, because you ate it yesterday! If the monotony of the same flavours scares you, then shake it up, leftovers can always be turned into other things, like fun pies or soups. The possibilities are endless, you just have to get a little creative! And don’t forget, to make the most of your leftovers make sure to put them away in appropriate containers as soon as possible, you don’t want to leave them on that Christmas table for hours! So yes, it may be a little extra work, but it’s worth the reduced waste and delicious meals for the next couple of days!

Step 6: Donate!

If you fail to control you inner Christmas  fanatic and you do buy all of that food, don’t freak out! There are always other options! As mentioned, the holidays are a time of giving and receiving, a time of selflessness and love, so whatever food you don’t eat, donate it to those who would appreciate it! You can bring it to local shelters or soup kitchens, or give it to people who you know could use the help. This way you have done more than a good deed this  holiday season! The food disparity gap is far too big these days, so food redistribution is a great effort to combat waste and help those in need!

Step 7: Enjoy and think ahead!

Lastly, have fun, enjoy your Christmas and any other holidays you are celebrating, enjoy your families and all the twinkly lights, but remember, your good deeds don’t have to be reserved for this special month, so think about it and make efforts to prevent future food waste in your home and do what you can to fix that horrible food disparity that is omnipresent in our world. Don’t wait for a Christmas miracle to happen, be your own Christmas miracle and make that difference, however small it is it will always be valuable!

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