8 ways to make the most of festive food

13 December 2016

The festive and summer season. Pav, turkey, strawberries, ice-cream, bubbles. Our love of food in full effect. Here’s how to maximise your enjoyment while minimising waste.

About a third of the world’s food is wasted each year. That’s a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes. That’s the equivalent of destroying nearly 5,500 large container ships’ full of food every month. Meanwhile, one in 10 people on Earth are suffering from chronic malnutrition.

Rotting food emits methane and other forms of pollution. It is responsible for 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. Then there’s all the wasted energy and transport emissions from our complex long distance food systems.

On a national level it is an unnecessary drain on our economy. At a household level it’s money wasted. But there’s loads of easy stuff we can do about it.

Here’s how to enjoy the fruits of your year of labour, while also doing your bit.

  1. Plan your meals

The classic ‘bring a plate’ usually leads to too much food. If you want contributions try tasking folks with specific types of dishes to get a more even spread. If you are doing it all yourself use a portion calculator to make sure you don’t over-buy. It’s especially easy to do when you have guests and lots of children to factor in.

  1. Take stock

Remember to have a proper rummage around your cupboards before you head out. You don’t want to be risking additional time and expense shopping in Christmas madness. You may have most of what you need already hidden away somewhere. If you tend to go out for carrots and come back with chocolate Santas consider ordering online.

  1. Buy tasty and healthy

There’s always the temptation to buy lots of ‘fillers’ like bread rolls etc, to stack up the festive table. Consider going for quality not quantity. Check out Commonsense Organics, Ceres Organics or Ooooby. You can shop online for local good food produced to high environmental values. You want all your top people taken care of. But if there is an opportunity to leave out the odd guest it can help make better food a more affordable option.

  1. Find a home for everything

Compost those offcuts! Build your own compost set up. Buy a handy a Zing Bokashi system or Hungry Bin to turn it all back into garden goodness. For work events, sign up to WeCompost to collect your waste. You might have friends with chickens or pigs that would welcome your scraps too! Check out Love Food Hate Waste for more ideas.

  1. Let guests serve their own food

There’s nothing like seeing big plates laden with food at the family bash. But not when it is at the end after everyone has gone. An easy way to avoid this is to eat buffet style, or by letting folks serving themselves at the table.

People are more likely to choose what they actually will eat. It’s also helpful for those watching their weight and for children.

Serve things up in waves rather than putting everything out on the table all at once. Let people know there is more in store, but this way heaps of food isn’t getting munted in the sun if it’s not eaten right away.

  1. Store up some goodness for later

Summer is a tricky time for keeping food fresh, especially if you are eating outdoors. A good set of containers will help. If people do bring food, wash up their containers and refill them with a tasty selection of leftovers for them to take home. To avoid plastic try Honey Wraps or products from Munch.

  1. Love your leftovers

Freeze what you can’t eat or give away. You will love yourself on those ‘can’t be bothered’ days. Old school stocks and broths are also great ways to use up leftovers.

  1. Donate

Too much food at the office? Contact food rescue agencies like Kaibosh in Wellington or the Good Neighbour Aotearoa Trust in Tauranga. They will pass the food on to those who need it.