Love your leftovers this Christmas

Love your leftovers this Christmas

Tis the season for eating. No matter how much we (over)indulge on Christmas Day, there always seem to be leftovers.

Leftovers are a valued part of Christmas, with many Kiwi families counting on leftovers to feed themselves for Christmas dinner, Boxing Day and beyond.

Despite this, more food goes to waste during Christmas week than any other time of year. When we consider the small fortunes many families spend on ensuring their Christmas table is well-laden with turkey and ham, lamb and seafood, it’s horrifying to think of the cost of that food going to waste.

With a little bit of planning, leftovers can be the bonus of the holiday period, meaning you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time at the beach. Here’s how.

Make room in your fridge and freezer

Leftovers are great, but you have to have somewhere to put them to keep them cold. In the lead up to Christmas try to zero down your freezer so that you will have space for your Christmas goodies. Not only will this ensure you have room for that ham bone come Boxing Day (so you can make pea and ham soup in the winter), it may also save you money on a meal or two by eating food you already have. Remember almost anything can be frozen, including cheese, cream, wine and the leftover egg yolks from when you made your Pavlova.

Try not to over-cater

spinach salad

While Christmas is about indulgence don’t go overboard with perishable foods that are likely to go off in a hurry, like fruit, vegetables and seafood. With supermarkets only closed on the 25th, you can always pop out to stock up if you need to. When planning your meals, consider how many people are coming and how much food you really need. For example, if you’re having several different salad options, each salad doesn’t need to be able to feed the full number of guests at your meal.

Keep an eye on the clock

When serving food, be mindful of how long it is sitting around out of the fridge. The longer it is at room temperature, the greater the risk of food poisoning. Food shouldn’t be at room temperature for more than two hours. Pack food away as soon as possible once people have finished eating, so that you can eat it for another meal. If food needs to be out for a longer period of time, such as at a buffet, only serve some of the food, leaving the rest in the fridge or oven until you need it. Learn more about how to keep your food safe this summer.

Make leftovers a meal of their own

Set aside a meal or two where you plan to eat your leftovers – Boxing Day is perfect for this. Pack them in your chilly bin and head to the beach to enjoy a relaxing day with no cooking.

Makeover leftovers

Don’t get sick of your leftover ham and turkey – there are many ways you can use it. Stock up before Christmas on the ingredients that you need to turn leftovers into a new meal, like pastry to make a turkey pie, lasagne sheets to make these lasagne pasta rolls with leftover ham and parmesan, or rice paper rolls to make easy summer wraps for your leftover seafood.

Tis the season for sharing

If you know you can’t eat all of the leftovers from a potluck meal or the large Christmas dinner, share them with your guests. Package them up so that each person gets a little bit of everything, rather than sending people home with only the food they brought . No one wants to get stuck with a whole bowl of leftover potato salad! If you’re heading away on holiday straight after Christmas, pop leftovers in your freezer for an easy meal the night you get back or offer them to your neighbours.

Having a BBQ? Learn how to keep your food safe this summer