Much of the glorious food piled onto tables during the holidays ends up lining the bin rather than your stomach.
In the UK, for example, new research found that at least 50,544 metric tons of food is thrown out at Christmas each year, including 4,800 metric tons of mince pies and 2,000 metric tons of cheese. That amounts to £4.8 million in wasted food. And in the US, Americans throw out approximately 200 million pounds of turkey after Thanksgiving — quite a bad start to the season.
Meanwhile, 1 in 9 people worldwide struggle to find safe, nutritious food to live a healthy life, even though the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet. Sounds like something's going wrong somewhere, then?
We agree. Holiday food tastes too good to throw away, but more importantly, food waste is too unfair to get away with. It's time to take action. This festive season, here are 21 simple ideas to fight food waste from your own home.
Festive Sausage Rolls from Sorted
The name of this recipe might be a little misleading since no sausage meat is required. Still, the guys from Sorted Food have found a straightforward way to turn your dry turkey scraps into a gourmet “sausage” roll — all you need to do is fold some turkey, brie, parma ham, cranberry sauce (and a little bit of egg) into a roll of puff pastry, bake it in the oven, and you’re pretty much done.
If you’re looking for something more ambitious, try these risotto recipes using Christmas meats and festive herbs for a wholesome fusion meal:
Turkey, Stuffing and Leek risotto
Turkey, Parmesan and Prosecco risotto
And if turkey’s not the bird for you, the Hairy Bikers have a goose risotto to warm you right up.
Boxing Day Pasties from Jack Monroe
Food poverty campaigner and budget cooking expert (chef) Jack Monroe’s leftover pasties sound far more appetising than a soggy Christmas sandwich
There is so much you can do with leftover vegetables it’s impossible to know where to start, so let’s begin anywhere but the dustbin.
Veg Peel Crisps from Rubies in the Rubble
Stop! Don’t throw away your vegetable peels straightaway. They could be the perfect snack for an afternoon on the sofa or to satisfy your hungry guests when the food is running late. Turn them into vegetable crisps with Rubies in the Rubble’s simple recipe.
Bubble and Squeak from Love Food Hate Waste
If too many guests avoided the brussel sprouts this year, recycle them into Love Food Hate Waste's Bubble and Squeak for breakfast or lunch. It works with any vegetable, and if you’re a vegetarian, just skip the bacon or try this recipe for Bubble and Squeak fritters.
6. Pies, Pies, Pies
With all the potatoes, gravy, and vegetables still desperate to be eaten, there’s probably no better catch-all dish than a pie. Try these if you think that everything tastes better in pastry:
Puff Pastry Topped Vegetable Pie
Christmas Pie with Greens, Chestnuts and Feta
Sweet Treats with Cranberry Sauce
You’ve probably thought about pairing cranberry sauce with meat or cheese, but what about that mountain of chocolate still lying around?
We all want some figgy pudding, right? Wrong. The marmite of Christmas, slices and slices of Christmas pudding are bound to be cast aside this year. See if you can transform its bittersweet flavour with these inventive dessert recipes.
Christmas Pudding Cheesecake (This one is particularly great if you have some extra ginger biscuits and clementines lying around!)
Extra hints and tips
Too much cheese?
Melt leftover rinds or stubs of cheese into a soup to add a richer flavour.
Mull over some wine
Even if you can’t imagine letting wine go to waste, there are far more creative things you can do with wine than pouring it into a glass — from freezing it to jellying it.
Some things do need to be thrown away, but not until you’ve squeezed every last bit of goodness out of them. Save any bones, potato peel or vegetable stubs to use as stock later down the line.
Had more than enough now?
If you have far more food than you could possibly eat, you can donate anything unopened to a local food bank or charity. Organisations like The Trussell Trust and FareShare accept food donations across the UK, redistributing surplus food to those struggling to feed themselves and their families.
That's it — 21 simple ways to reduce food waste this year. Which ones will you try?
Editor's note: This story was originally published Dec. 23, 2016, and has been updated to reflect current statistics around food waste and world hunger.