The best part of the festive season for most of us is coming together with friends and family to share a home-cooked Christmas lunch or dinner (or both!) complete with Aussie favourites such as prawns and pavlova.
While we have the best intentions in wanting to ensure our guests are well-fed and treated to all the indulgences the season has to offer, these aspirations are too often accompanied by a shocking amount of waste.
Food wastage in Australia increases by 30% at Christmas, contributing to the 7.6 million tonnes of food we collectively waste each year. This equates to around 312 kilograms per person, or about $2,500 per household annually.
While these startling stats might make you feel more like Scrooge than Elf in your attitude toward Christmas, there are plenty of simple ideas you can implement to reduce waste, save money and maintain the merriment.
1. Safety first – always wash your hands before and whilst preparing food, prevent cross contamination by keeping raw meats separate from ready-to-eat food, cook all food thoroughly and be sure to store food in the fridge within two hours of serving.
2. Keep it simple – focus on just a few dishes rather than a large spread with multiple meats and sides.
3. Plan and communicate – if you are asking guests to bring a dish, then be specific about what you’d like them to bring and make it clearly let them know not to bring anything other than their assigned dish because there will be enough (circulate a spreadsheet, if you are so inclined so that everyone can see who is bringing what and that all plates are covered).
4. Opt for self-serve – allow your guests to serve themselves buffet-style to reduce waste through self-tailored portion sizes.
5. Ditch the dressings – undressed salads last longer so serve dressings on the side to extend life of salad leftovers.
6. Store it – correct food storage can make items last longer, giving you more opportunity to use them up. Check out Sustainability Victoria’s A-Z guide for storing fresh produce or The Full Freezer’s YouTube Channel for guidance.
8. Go green – if it’s unavoidable to throw out food (or scraps), make use of your home compost, or your kerbside green bin, in which you can put all types of food waste including prawn shells and meat bones, plus 100% paper packaging such as egg cartons. Visit whichbin.sa.gov.au for more info on using your green bin.
With a few adjustments to your traditions and a little planning ahead, both the planet and your wallet will thank you!