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Turkey sandwiches are our favourite way to use Christmas leftovers

Turkey sandwiches are our favourite way to use leftovers at Christmas

Published December 2019.

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year to invite family and friends around to enjoy food together. It is also a time when a lot of food can be wasted. In a recent EPA Stop Food Waste survey, half of the people surveyed noticed more food waste over the Christmas period than at other times of the year. This shows there is an opportunity for everyone to take steps to reduce their festive food waste. This is one of the most important climate actions we can take, and it saves money. 

70% of people surveyed admitted that they buy extra food ‘just in case’ they have unexpected visitors.

Instead of overbuying, store food properly so it lasts longer and use your leftovers. This will ensure there is enough Christmas fare for impromptu guests. Also, remember the supermarkets and local shops won’t be closed for long!

People surveyed said the most wasted food in their homes are Brussels sprouts (32%), meat (30%) and potatoes (25%).

Everyone can think back to last Christmas to pinpoint what types of food were wasted and then plan how much food you actually need and resist cooking too much. Finally, why not make new traditions by not preparing foods that nobody really likes?

So what food tops the Christmas leftovers list?

72% of people surveyed identified cold meats as their number one leftover.

Most people surveyed prefer making sandwiches (65%) with their leftover turkey and ham after Christmas, while only 25% of those surveyed make the fabled leftover turkey curry! People surveyed also said that stuffing (13%) and mince pies (21%) were least likely to go to waste, while only 7% of those surveyed eat vegetable leftovers. Leftovers are the no-stress dinner that makes it easy to invite family and friends around during Christmas time. 

A great way to save leftovers is to try ‘family style’ serving of food. Rather than plating individual meals, allow everyone to serve themselves from large serving dishes. We’re more inclined to save leftovers from a serving dish than off someone’s plate. Once cooled, store leftovers in the fridge – to be eaten and not forgotten! For ideas on how to make the most of leftovers check out our ‘12 Days of Christmas Recipesand ‘Luscious Leftovers’ booklets.

If you need more ideas on what to do with your leftovers after Christmas, be sure to take a look at Safefood’s Christmas leftovers recipes here. Our favourites? Adrian Web’s leftover turkey curry with rice and naan bread and the turkey and bacon hash brown bake.

Mary Frances Rochford, EPA Programme Manager said:

“Christmas is of course a time for celebrating, but also a time when a lot of food is wasted. By taking some simple steps to manage our food, we cut the carbon footprint of the festive season; and also trim our shopping bills. This year we are encouraging every household in Ireland to take steps to reduce their festive food waste and to always use the leftovers – especially on St. Stephen’s Day which we call ‘National Leftovers Day’.”

So come on, take simple steps to manage your food over Christmas and then make a New Year’s resolution to focus on food waste by:

  1. Buying only the food you need;
  2. Storing food properly and 
  3. Always using the leftovers.


This online survey was conducted between 11-28 November 2019 to ask people about food waste in their homes during Christmas and which foods make the festive leftovers list.  597 people responded to the survey, which was circulated via the Stop Food Waste newsletter and social media channels