When it comes to holiday dining, we all have a tendency to overdo it. I doubt anyone has ever been, or prepared, a Christmas dinner and found that there wasn’t enough. More often than not, even after feeding everyone till they’re ready to explode, you’re left with a giant pile of leftover food that you just don’t know what to do with. So we’ve put together some handy solutions for dealing with excessive leftovers that won’t overload your fridge and result in you eating sad, reheated brussel sprouts for a week.
- See what can be salvaged: if any of your culinary efforts can be frozen, then you can stockpile them for future occasions and repurpose them for New Year’s Eve or even serve as office lunches once you return to work. Anything that’s best enjoyed fresh or can be converted into sandwiches should be reserved for your Boxing Day meals. Also, any leftover fruits that might get a bit soft, turn it into smoothies – which will be perfect for breakfast after an indulgent day. Likewise the veggies can be whizzed up in a blender or food processor and turned into soup.
- Keeping it fresh: believe it or not, there are a few simple tricks that will help more perishable food last longer. Wrap lettuce and other salad leaves in kitchen towels and pop in ziplock backs in the freezer. The paper will absorb extra moisture and help keep the leaves crisp. Any veggies with stems, like asparagus or broccoli, can be treated like flowers – pop them into a glass of water to keep them fresher for longer. You can also pop an apple in with any of your unused potatoes – the chemicals released by the apple skin prevent potatoes from sprouting.
- Make it someone else’s problem: the drawback of guests is that you’ll have a lot of mouths to feed. But the advantage of guests is that they have a lot of mouths to feed! Just be strategic about this. Before anyone even comes over, have a stack of tupperware at the ready – ideally nothing you’re going to miss – this is a great way of getting rid of old take away boxes or sandwich bags or any party napkins. As people start to leave, don’t offer and don’t give them the chance to protest. Present them with a baggie as you’re saying goodbye and telling them how much you love them. No one will want to be rude and it’ll be too awkward to turn it down!
- Turn it into dog treats: if your guests do try to squirm out of it, play the pet owner card. Dogs will happily gobble up anything, but Christmas food is particularly appealing. Just be mindful that you don’t include anything that would make them sick, like chocolate, onions or cooked bones, otherwise, you can put together little balls of yumminess. And dogs won’t care about the presentation, so it doesn’t matter if the food all gets squished together.
- Donate it: last but not least, you can be really altruistic and donate your leftovers to a local charity or care organisation. Food waste is a serious problem, with far too much perfectly good food being thrown away on a daily basis. To cut down on this and be generous this year, you could invite some more guests to your festivities. For example, if you have any elderly neighbours or those who you know live alone, invite them to join your celebration. Otherwise, you can reach out to local food banks and charities that can help you repurpose your leftover feast. You could even keep things simpler, pre-package some single-use plates with a little bit of everything, clingfilm it up and just hand them out to those you see who are in need. Christmas is a happy time for many people, but the homeless often have nowhere to go and no warm food to enjoy during the holidays. Any bigger city, sadly, will have a lot of homeless people, so why not embrace the spirit of giving, take a stroll and give away some meals to those in need.