18 Dec 2018

Tips to avoid food waste this Christmas

7:28 pm on 18 December 2018

With Christmas less than a week away, grocery shoppers are being warned not to overfill their trolleys.

Shopping cart full with dairy grocery products isolated over white background

New Zealanders throw away 122,000 tonnes of food each year, according to lobby group Love Food Hate Waste. Photo: 123RF

Almost half of shoppers are choosing - right about now, a week before Christmas - to do their "big shop", stocking up on packets of chips, dips, drink mixers produce and meat.

According to the food waste lobby group Love Food Hate Waste, New Zealanders throw away 122,000 tonnes of food each year - which is equal to about $872 million.

Jenny Marshall, the project manager for the group, said especially at Christmas people needed to think about what they were buying and what might end up in the bin.

"We know in the UK that about 10 percent of every meal over Christmas time is thrown away and also that we buy enough food just for Christmas day that could probably feed our family normally for two or three days."

She said the problem with food waste was worse than people thought.

"So when we throw away food it goes to a landfill and it creates a gas called methane and that's one of those climate change gases. If food waste was a country it would be the third in the world for producing climate change gases.

"That's how much food we're throwing away."

Figures from Foodstuffs, which oversees Pak n Save and New World supermarkets, showed ham on the bone was New Zealanders' favourite buy - with sales already up 4 percent on last year - but a whole leg was something most households struggled to finish in its entirety.

Off-cuts that have been frozen would come in handy for pizza or pastas later on, and freezing the ham bone itself meant it could be brought out in winter to use for a hearty soup, Ms Marshall said.

She said with a bit of forward thinking like this, a lot of waste could be avoided.

"In the lead up to Christmas lots of foods don't need to be stored in the fridge - jams, tomato sauce, sweet chilli sauce - they can happily stay out of the fridge for three or four days so make sure you pull everything out of your fridge that doesn't need to be there so you've got plenty of space for things that do."

Some suggestions from Love Food Hate Waste to minimise food waste at Christmas:

  • Send guests home with a plate of food
  • Take unopened food to a local community food or pataka kai pantry or just pop around to the neighbours with a meal
  • Plan a menu not just for Christmas day but for the days following
  • Eat your left overs - keep pizza bases and wraps handy to have with them
  • Shop with a list and stick to it
  • Clear out your fridge and freezer (by eating meals from them) prior to Christmas
  • Freeze half eaten tubs of hummus to eat later - they can double as ice packs for the chilly bin

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