Seasonal Tips

Love your Leftovers – the Christmas edition!

Love your Leftovers – the Christmas edition!

Did you know that the 26th of December is National Leftovers Day? Some might say that it officially starts around 8pm on Christmas Day when the first round of turkey sandwiches appear.

More than any other time of the year, the festive season means more food and extra leftovers. We buy more and prepare bigger meals for more people than usual, using ingredients we might not use regularly at other times of the year. All of this leads to extra cooked food, fresh produce and store cupboard ingredients to be used up.

We know that 58% of people say keeping leftovers but not using them up in time is the main reason for throwing food away. Maybe this is a reason why you throw food away too?

If so, there are simple steps you can take to:

  • Plan meals and plan portions to avoid unwanted leftovers,
  • Store leftovers correctly to keep them fresher for longer,
  • Plan to eat leftovers so they don’t go to waste, or
  • Freeze leftovers for later use.

How do we do that? Well, consider this our gift to you this festive season – while you’re planning for the Christmas dinner, we’re planning for your leftovers!

Meal Planning to use leftovers

  • Plan your Christmas dinner portions. To reduce the amount of unwanted leftovers, you can use Safe Food’s portion planner to calculate how much you need to buy to serve your guests and you can measure ingredients by count, by volume or by weight.
  • Plan for a leftovers night. If you know the fridge or freezer is going to fill up with leftover food, plan one night over Christmas week when you use everything up for dinner.
  • Think ingredients not leftovers. Turn cooked vegetables into a frittata. Create burritos with leftover cooked rice, meat and vegetables, and top them off with sour cream and salsa.

Store leftovers correctly

  • Don’t let those Christmas dinner leftovers sit on the counter for too long. Once they’ve cooled down, pop them in the fridge.
  • Store leftovers in clear containers so you can see what you have to use up.
  • Put leftover tinned food in a plastic container before storing in the fridge.
  • Know how long leftover food will keep –
    • Cooked vegetables: 4-5 days in an airtight container.
    • Cooked potatoes: 3-5 days in an airtight container.

 Turn your Christmas leftovers into delicious meals!

  • Turkey – cooked turkey can go even further than sandwiches and curry, consider toasted paninis, turkey noodle soup, a creamy turkey and mushroom vol-au-vent or loaded nachos!
  • Ham – cooked ham works really well in omelettes, quiches, or pasta carbonara. You could also create quesadillas, tacos or sprinkle on pea soup.
  • Veg – cooked veg makes great soup – puree the veg with 1-2 litres of vegetable or chicken broth, then warm in a pot. Season with salt and pepper, and finish with a bit of pesto, olive oil or croutons. You could also blend cooked vegetables with a can of whole tomatoes to create a veggie-packed pasta sauce. And for leftover Brussel Sprouts, consider a stir fry.
  • Potatoes – Transform mashed spuds into potato cakes, or combine with your favourite flaked fish to make fishcakes. Leftover boiled potatoes can be cooked into a Spanish omelette, a potato hash or sliced and fried for sandwiches!
  • Desserts – There are a few Christmas desserts which exceed even the sweetest tooth’s appetite. Consider mixing Christmas Pudding into vanilla ice cream to eat or refreeze for later. You could also combine in a muffin mix for festive buns or use small scoops as the centre of some homemade chocolate truffles! For Panettone – soak in coffee and liquor and top with cream for a take on tiramisu; use up in a bread pudding; or for a salty sweet sensation, make it the base of an eggy bread with crispy bacon on top!
  • Cream – Used in so many Christmas dishes yet, once it’s open it can be easy to forget about before it’s passed its best. Keep it front of the fridge so you remember it when serving up soup, sauces, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs or quiche. Not forgetting those Irish coffees. It is Christmas after all! And don’t forget cream can be frozen to use another time.
  • Smoked salmon – As a chilled product, this should be one of the first items to use up promptly after opening. Luckily, smoked salmon goes well with many ingredients, so it won’t be a challenge to use it up. Salmon quiches (with goat’s cheese, spinach or leeks), or smoked salmon omelette/scrambled eggs can be an easy and healthy option. It can also be used to transform bagels, wraps, paninis, toasted sandwiches, or pasta dishes.

Freeze Christmas leftovers for later use.

  • Freeze cooked meat by putting in an airtight container or wrapping tightly in clingfilm. It will maintain quality for 2-4 months.
  • Cooked veggies with low water content freeze best – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and green beans.
  • Homemade sponge cake preserves freshness and moisture for up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • Freeze in small portions so you only have to defrost as much as you need to use in future.

Will you take action to use your Christmas leftovers?

We’d love to hear about the steps you’re taking to stop wasting leftovers. Maybe you have your own top tips to share with us using #LoveYourLeftovers on social media?

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