Avoid wasting food this Christmas with tips from the Food Standards Agency’s Freezer Fairy!

FSA Freezer Fairy Freezer Fairy

Getting ready for Christmas:

  • Before you plan your Christmas meals, think about how many people you’ll be cooking for and how big the portion sizes should be. The portion planner covers all sorts of foods and tells you how much you need to cook, so that you can avoid the temptation of buying too much.
  • When you do your shopping remember to take two or more bags with you so that you can separate out raw and ready-to-eat foods and help to reduce waste from cross-contaminated foods.
  • A good tip for carrying all of your raw meat safely might be to use a ‘bag for life’. You may need to have an extra-large one if your turkey is big! Here’s some advice on packing food safely when shopping.
  • If you want to plan ahead, you can get your Christmas cooking done weeks in advance by storing cooked foods in the freezer. It’s best to place food in an air tight container or wrap it well in freezer bags, freezer wrap or cling film before freezing it, to stop the cold air from drying it out. Expel as much air from the freezer bags as possible.
  • It’s a good idea to date and label any foods that goes into the freezer so you know what it is and how long it has been in there.
  • The freezer is like a pause button, so you can freeze pre-packaged Christmas goodies safely right up to the ‘use by’ date.

Other Festive food tips

  • Did you know that you can prepare a lot of the meal in advance to save time and reduce stress on the day!
  • You can prepare all of your veg in advance; if you don’t want to spend Christmas morning peeling potatoes, you can parboil them for five minutes, then drain and cool them before freezing. You can do the same with wedges of carrot and parsnip, or even Brussels sprouts, which will need slightly less cooking time than usual.
  • Cranberry sauce, bread sauce and chestnut stuffing can also be frozen in advance – you’ll just need to add a splash of cream or milk to the bread sauce after reheating it.

Leftovers and reducing food waste tips

  • You can make festive food go further by freezing leftovers. Just make sure any warm dishes are cool before putting them in your freezer. It’s best to place leftover food in an air tight container or wrap it well in freezer bags, freezer wrap or cling film before freezing it, to stop the cold air from drying it out. Expel as much air as possible from freezer bags.
  • Remember when you’re freezing food to divide into portion sizes so you’ll only defrost what you need and to write the date so you know when you put it in the freezer. This will help you to reduce waste.
  • To help make food go further you can make your leftovers into new meals then freeze them.
  • You can even freeze turkey, other meat and meals cooked using previously frozen raw meat. Just make sure you only reheat cooked meat once. But once defrosted, the pause button is off and you should eat the food within 24 hours. So you can turn your leftover Christmas dinner into a tasty meal for another day.
  • If you have leftover wine you can pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it for use at a later date in sauces, gravy or (if it’s white) even as an alcoholic ice cube to chill your wine.
  • Don’t waste any fresh herbs that are leftover, you can puree and freeze them in an ice cube tray to add to dishes as and when you need them.