Save food waste and money this Christmas!

Filed in Blog, Guest Posts by on December 10, 2009 0 Comments
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Sally White from WRAP talks about food waste

Sally White from WRAP talks about food waste

Our guest post this week is from Sally White. Sally works as a waste reduction adviser for WRAP. She helps promote campaigns such as Love Food Hate Waste, which informs and empowers householders to cut down on waste and save money.

Sally is a committed environmentalist, and does all she can to cut down her carbon and water footprints. This has meant questioning the way she eats, shops and travels, and has led to a much more fulfilling life.

Today she is going to talk to us about making the most of our freezer space in the run up to Christmas.

Despite being 5,300 years old, Otzi the iceman is in amazing shape. Scientists have even been able to determine that he had a jolly good meal of red deer shortly before his death – both him and the evidence of his dietary habits having been perfectly preserved by the ice.

Fifty-three centuries later, and our freezers now play host to a wealth of well preserved treasures – £860million worth, to be precise; enough to feed each family in the UK for 11 days. But this food often gets forgotten about: our research has shown that only 28 per cent of people use their freezers daily, despite the massive potential they have to deflect food from dreaded landfill sites, with all the horror they entail.

So in the run up to Christmas the Love Food Hate Waste team is challenging people to seek out the lost and frozen foods in their freezers both to save money and to make room for all the inevitable leftovers that will come about as a result of the festive feasting. From Christmas cake to cranberry sauce, nearly all of our uneaten food can be frozen and served up later (if you’d like some more advice or reassurance on this, visit the arctic aunt on the Love Food Hate Waste website). And when you think that collectively, in the UK we’re throwing away £12billion worth of food and drink annually (and in doing so creating 20million tonnes of unnecessary carbon), this is clearly a very worthwhile option.

So what’s stopping us? Throughout the UK, myths abound about the dangers of foraging through our own freezers, while in reality such activity lacks any sinister edge. Freezing food will in fact lock in freshness; almost all foods really can be frozen; and as Otzi has displayed remarkably well, freezing will preserve it for years. The only rule is the food needs to stay frozen the whole time.

What’s more, by eating through some of the backlog to make space now, Christmas can be made much easier! Not only will the freezer allow you to stock up on basics, such as milk and bread, many traditional Christmas food items can be prepared and frozen ahead.  Try making stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and brandy butter before the guests come to stay and store in tubs in the freezer. Even roast potatoes can be prepared in advance: cut and par-boil the potatoes, leave them to cool and freeze them flat. When frozen solid they can all be popped into a freezer bag to save on space. On Christmas day you can then bring them out to roast straight from frozen, season and sprinkle with olive oil and they’ll come out crunchy and fluffy.

To keep your freezer running as efficiently as possible, the Energy Saving Trust also has lots of handy advice, from recommending that you place it in as cool a location as possible, to keeping the condenser coil clean and well ventilated and ensuring that it doesn’t ice up. A slight energy saving can also be gained by keeping the freezer roughly ¾ full.

For more tips on how to avoid food waste over the festive period, including party portion calculators and ‘glamour from nothing’ recipes such as curried turkey cucumber croutes or loaded baby potato bites that use up leftovers and inspire more freezer foraging, go to the Love Food, Hate Waste website.

This time of year, even the darkest green amongst us find it difficult to avoid wasting food, but with a little bit of help and imagination, we can all go that bit further. The latest research has shown that by stopping wasting all this food we could create the same environmental saving as taking one in four cars off the road, so the potential is truly massive.

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

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