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What to do with any surplus food this Christmas

by Jessica Lockyer-Palmer

published on 21 December 2020

If the last-minute changes to the UK's Covid-19 guidance for Christmas (cheers, Rona) have left you with a glut of excess food, here's how to ensure it doesn't go to waste.

1. Donate to a food bank or other food redistribution charity or service

If you've got a surplus of ingredients you will struggle to use, why not look at donating those items to individuals and families in need this Christmas. The Trussell Trust, a network supporting 1200 (around two thirds) of the UK's food banks, is a great place to start, with a handy search tool to help you find your nearest bank to donate to. For perishable items, try Olio, a food sharing app which helps connect users with food going spare locally to limit food waste. Simply list any extra items you don't need and state your location for a neighbour in need to collect from you. If you are based in Sussex and Surrey, Fareshare, a service which redistributes excess food to vulnerable people, is accepting food donations from individuals at various locations in the area. If you are London-based, this comprehensive round-up of mutual aid groups and food bank services from Eater.com will help you find a local project or service you can support with donations.

2. Make friends with your freezer

If you're not already well-acquainted with the food waste-minimising benefits of your freezer, now is a great time to get started. Whether you decide to freeze your base ingredients (this handy guide to freezing food from Chris Bavin contains a list of some of the ingredients you may not be aware you can freeze, from extra eggs to citrus, and advice on how to freeze them successfully), or you opt for cooking the meals you had planned and freezing spare portions to be enjoyed for weeks to come, your freezer is your friend this festive season.

3. Get creative with your leftovers

From turkey to panettone, cheese to chocolate, if cooking for less people than you had planned for leaves you with leftovers over the Christmas period, we have plenty of creative ways to use them up. Think panettone bread and butter pudding, turkey casserole, ham soup and leftover brie pithivier. For a less festive selection of ideas, try this collection of everyday recipes to help you battle food waste, from clearing out the fruit bowl to using up leftover meat.

For more tips for a zero-waste Christmas, see this feature.

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