How can you still enjoy a festive feast without creating loads of waste? Listen to the sprout.
I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. But every year in the UK, you throw 130 million of us away. 130 million! I mean, if you don’t like us, don’t buy us! But this isn’t just a piece about saving the sprouts. There’s lots more of us that you can help this Christmas. Here’s how.
Plan your buying
I know what it’s like. You get to the supermarket and everything looks sooo good. But that just means you come home with more than you need. So go armed with a plan. Write a list of what you need and stick to it. Remember, the shops are only closed for a couple of days so there’s no need to stock up for months. Because you buy less you save money and you throw less away – which is good news for sprouts. And carrots. And satsumas.
Do you usually buy a turkey so big it barely fits in the oven? This year you might find that social distancing rules mean there are fewer people around the table, so buy accordingly so you don’t end up with lots left over.
Lots of people have (re)discovered their local butcher, grocer and baker recently. Smaller shops often sell loose produce, so you don’t have to buy 15 parsnips when you only need 3. And when you buy local you’ll find lots of the produce is local too – so your Christmas feast comes with a much smaller carbon footprint. You can also take your own trays/fabric bags to weigh the fruit and veg.
Have you any idea what it’s like to be squashed into the veg drawer of your fridge, uncomfortably close to a leek? When air can’t circulate around your fridge properly the food inside goes bad. And you won’t like me when I’m bad. The beauty of buying a little less is that all the veg (and everything else) in your fridge has more room to breathe – so we stay fresh for longer and you don’t need to throw us out.
Rotate your larder
How often do you get back from a big shop and refill the gaps at the front of the cupboard with what you’ve just bought? The problem with that is all the older food at the back of the cupboard just gets older. Let the lonely cans, packs and sachets at the back of the cupboard see the light of day. Bring them to the front before you stock up, so you don’t end up throwing them away.
Use by or best before?
Remember, if your food has a use by date, it may no longer be safe to eat after that date. But best before dates are different. They’re less about safety and more about quality. So just because your pepper grinder is a month past its best doesn’t mean you have to throw it. It just won’t be at peak peppery-ness. Use your judgement with best before dates and you could save money and waste.
Bag your bargains
Everyone’s bought lots of reusable bags over the past few years. But they only benefit the environment when you actually reuse them. So keep a supply of used bags in your car boot or by the door, so you always remember them when you’re heading to the shops.
Soups. Curries. Crumbles. There are loads of recipes online for using up leftover turkey, Xmas pudding and yes, even sprouts. So get creative with those leftovers, freeze what you can (be careful to follow those reheating rules), and throw less away.
Don’t throw everything!
So you didn’t get to eat all of those mince pies and Christmas puddings? Check the use by dates. Lots of them will last for weeks – if not months – after Christmas. So just because the holiday season is over doesn’t mean you need to dump every leftover in the bin.
Even after you’ve done all of the above, if you still find you have a cupboard full of party food that you’ll never get round to eating once you’re on the January diet, don’t let it go to waste. Find us a good home with friends or family or donate to a local food charity where we can do some good.
And remember, sprouts aren’t just for Christmas…