Waitrose study finds around 13% of festive food shop gets binned

A poll commissioned by Waitrose of 2,000 adults found nearly one in three (31%) admit to wasting more food than usual at this festive time of year – as 61% overbuy to make sure they don’t run out.

The study revealed that 16% find it difficult to judge just how much they need to see them through. But in a bid to curb the amount of food which gets chucked away, 35% are going to force down foods they don’t particularly like.

While 38% will be giving leftovers for their guests to take away with them, and 41% will try to get creative in the kitchen to use up their leftovers.

With sandwiches being the most popular leftover dish, 39 per cent like to spice things up on Boxing Day with a curry, 36% turn to the traditional bubble and squeak, and 31% chuck their leftovers into a hearty soup. 

Zoe Simons, senior brand development chef, said, “Getting ready for the big day can be a stressful and exciting time, especially now we’re able to host family and friends once again after the pandemic. But both of these factors can cause people to buy much more food at Christmas than they actually need – and inevitably, a proportion of this unfortunately finds its way into the bin.'

“It’s encouraging to learn that so many are taking care to reduce what they waste, particularly at Christmas and we want to help where we can. That’s why we’ve come up with some simple and exciting ways to give people the impetus to work up something special with what may typically have been thrown away.”

The research found potatoes, carrots and pigs in blankets are the most popular foods households have on Christmas Day, followed by sprouts and turkey. 

With such an array of different foods left behind, 49% would be more likely to cook with their leftovers if they had more inspiration in the kitchen.

When quizzed more generally about food waste, 27 per cent recognised their household had a problem with it, but 48 per cent said their awareness of the issue has increased over the last five years. But the study, carried out via OnePoll, found 54 per cent believe food waste is a major issue we need to tackle together as a society. 

Zoe added, “As tends to be the case with environmental issues, there are often small changes we can make at home which can make a difference. Nobody buys food with the intention of throwing it in the bin but with UK homes discarding 4.5million tonnes of it every year, there are little steps you can take to reduce this waste.

“From planning your meals carefully over the Christmas period to ensure you’re buying the right amount for the number of people you’re hosting, to how you store your food.

'We’ve also made it easier for our customers by selling oddly shaped vegetables as well as forgotten cuts of meat - and we’re continuing to work closely with FareShare to donate surplus food to vulnerable families across the UK.”

Thrifty tips from Waitrose chefs
To help customers save money and take care in their meal planning this Christmas, chefs from the supermarket have come up with their top tips to make the most of festive leftovers.
1. Take time to plan, consider how many people you are cooking for, how many meals you will be expected to prepare, factor in that some of those meals will be perfect for the leftovers of your main Christmas meal.

2. Think ahead and store items in the freezer throughout December that you can use on the day, such as scraps of bread for bread sauce or veg peelings that you use throughout the month to make stock and gravy. 

3. Buying your fruit and vegetables loose not only helps in reducing packaging waste you can buy the exact quantities that you need.

4. Leftovers from the main meal can be blitzed gently in a food processor (think roasted carrots, parsnips and potatoes, along with some of the turkey) then combined with an egg - formed into croquette shapes and coated with breadcrumbs - air fry until crispy for a tasty boxing day nugget, perfect for dipping into leftover gravy

For those who need help working out quantities per person here’s an estimate:
> Green vegetables: large handful per person
> Roots (carrots/parsnips): 2 per person 
> Potatoes: 1 large potato per person (with maybe an extra thrown in for every 4th person as you don't want to be short on roasties!)