Your Essential Guide to Reducing Christmas Food Waste

roast turkey dinner

Ah, Christmas.  The time of year when we deviate from our usual shopping list and believe we are feeding a small country.  All retailers, and it would seem, especially food retailers love to play to our sense of nurturing our families through feeding them.  Which is great, except…all of that left-over food. Fear not, help is at hand. Here we guide you with some nifty tips to stop the waste. 

1. If You Don’t Like It, Don’t Buy It! 

It might be the season for stilton and ham but if you wouldn’t ordinarily eat it, you are unlikely to want to use up kilos of it after Christmas is done. Leave it on the shelf!

2. Make a Shopping List

Make a shopping list and stick to it!   Retailers are primed to get you to spend money on non-essentials and two for one deals are rife at this time of year.  Panic buying can also be a problem at this time of year as we have a tendency to stockpile as if the shops will never open again.  Have a think about each day over the festive period: where you will be and who will be with you, and what meals you are likely to be eating.  

3. Know Your Portion Sizes

Now this is a biggy! Think about portion sizes, you are unlikely to eat bigger portions than you do at any other time of year. And it is handy to know what is a reasonable portion size per person.

As a guide below, this is what you will need for Christmas dinner: 

  • 500g Turkey per person 
  • 1.5 large potatoes per person (cut up)
  • 400g vegetables per person
  • 200ml gravy per person
  • 150g stuffing per person 

Remember though if you love a bit of bubble and squeak on Boxing Day, do double up on your veggies. 

vegetable portion size 

4. Buy What You Need

Where possible buy loose vegetables from the supermarket, market or greengrocer, so you buy only what you need.  Likewise, anything you can buy from the butcher, and even better, packaging free.

5. Your Freezer is Your Friend

You can almost certainly freeze a lot more than you think you can.  Your leftover cheeseboard for example. Remember to cut cheese up into useable chunks ie a small piece of stilton would work beautifully in a vegetable soup or a pie. Milk and cream can also be frozen as can eggs, the whites or the yolks. 

Any food that is fully cooked and cooled will keep in the freezer for up to six months. 

Vegetable peelings can go in the freezer in a reusable bag to boil up for stock for soup.  

6. Preserve Things For Your Store Cupboard 

If you have some leftover lemons (or limes, or oranges) you can preserve them.

Simply slice the lemons, dip one side of the lemon in some good sea salt flakes and the other side into some sugar and layer them in a jar.  Put them in the fridge to absorb the flavours for a week and voila! The lemons are great in tagines or stews, as are the limes and the oranges work very well with a hearty winter salad with things like lentils.  

Christmas pudding will keep.  Wrap it well. It works fantastically in ice cream! 

7. What About Those Leftovers

Bubble and squeak – no recipe needed here!  Chop up your leftover veg and chuck in a hot frying pan.  If you want to go extra fancy, chuck leftover stuffing in too.  

8. The Turkey That Goes on For Days…

Here are a couple of our favourite recipes to ensure that none of that beautiful turkey goes to waste. They are quick, simple and delicious!

Good Old Turkey Pie

  • 600g turkey, 600 ham, chopped 
  • 2 leeks
  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 200ml stock
  • 250ml cream
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 block of shortcrust or puff pastry 
  1. Sweat the leeks in the butter for ten minutes. 
  2. Add in the turkey and ham and cook for another five minutes
  3. Add the flour and cook for two minutes more. 
  4. Add the cream, stock and mustard and bring to a simmer.
  5. Put the meat into a pie dish or similar, roll out the pastry to cover the meat.
  6. Cook for 30 mins until golden (200 C/180C fan/ gas mark 4)

Something a Bit Different – Turkey Noodles

  • 500g turkey
  • 250 egg noodles
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 30g salted peanuts (or any other leftover nuts), chopped.
  1. Cook the noodles for 3 or 4 minutes, then rinse. 
  2. Mix the sugar, soy sauce and lime juice together.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, then fry the turkey, chilli, garlic and spring onions for two minutes. 
  4. Add the noodles to the pan and fry for one minute more.
  5. Add the sauce, toss everything together and serve with the nuts on top. 

And of course, you can’t go wrong with….


More or less anything can be turned into soup.  Well, maybe not Christmas pudding. 

  1. Sweat an onion for ten minutes in olive oil or butter. 
  2. Pop your leftovers in the pan (vegetables, chopped ham etc) stir in for a couple of minutes.
  3. Pour over 500ml vegetable stock (powdered bouillon is great for this).
  4. Simmer for ten mins (longer if you have raw veg), season well, then blitz. 
  5. Taste and adjust.
  6. It may need a little acidity with a squeeze of lemon or vinegar. 
turkey soup

And remember, if all else fails, share your food! Offer it to your neighbours, or better cook it up for someone and take it to them. What’s App can be your friend – create a Christmas Waste Group with all of your crew! 

And finally, we’d all like to wish you a Happy Waste-Free Christmas!  

This brilliant guide to reducing food waste this Christmas was produced for us by the amazing Sada Ray at the Secret Sussex Supper Club. Sada cooks up some amazing feasts for her select crowds in West Sussex, and is an absolute genius of flavour. She also forages a lot of her food locally and is as passionate about resourcefulness as we are. Thanks so much Sada! Check her out on @secretsussexsupperclub on Instagram and watch out for her next Supper Club in the New Year. 

For more tips on how to have a resourceful Christmas check out our guide to wrapping resourcefully and watch out for our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Recycling.

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