Christmas may not be what we expected this year, with less parties and gatherings, but we can still take the opportunities to be as sustainable as we can. With curfews, number restrictions and budgetary constraints, more families will be opting for a home-cooked Christmas meal this year.

There are about 14.5 million households in SA that waste about 20kgs of food per month. That means an average of 290 million kgs of food is wasted each month. The carbon footprint of that is about 2 million tonnes per year.  These five handy tips will help you avoid food waste, while still keeping your Christmas as fun and festive as possible during these tough times.

  1. Buy Less

The less we buy, the less we waste. Meal planning and lists are essential to food loss and waste planning, and it saves money too. So after you’ve decided on your menu, ask yourself ‘what can I remove?’ And do it.

  1. Plan the leftovers into the next day’s meals

Leftovers can make a great range of yummy dishes. Pasta with the leftover gammon. Salads and cold meats. Spice up the roast veg leftovers by frying them in some garlic and olive oil and add an Asian twist with soy sauce and coconut milk. You can enjoy these dishes on Family Day or freeze them for later. Check out Love Food, Hate Waste for a range of fab tips.

  1. Soup base

Any leftover food can be simmered gently to extract the nutritional goodness and then frozen for later use in soups during the winter months. This can be leftover meat or vegetables, or cooked meals that you simply didn’t manage to finish. Top Tip for freezing: try freezing the food in portions, making it easier for later use.

  1. Give to others

With the increase in food insecurity due to the pandemic, a lot of people are especially vulnerable this Christmas. See if you can give your surplus food to a local food bank or soup kitchen.

  1. Compost your waste

With the bokashi system, any food waste can be put in the compost. This includes the skin that comes off the gammon before glazing, egg shells, coffee grinds, chicken bones – absolutely everything. The bokashi system is unique in that it ferments the food waste adding valuable microorganisms to help with the composting process. The microbes in the bokashi ensure that no pathogens contaminate your compost pile. You’ll make beautiful, healthy compost right in your back garden with no smells, rats or flies. Why compost? It saves money, resources, enriches your soil and decreased your impact to the environment. Growing your own veggies and herbs is very satisfying.

Once you start your bokashi system, you’ll wonder how you ever threw food waste in the dustbin before. No more smelly dustbins with maggots during summer. If you’re going away on holiday, you can sprinkle the food waste with bokashi and leave it sealed in the bucket for an indefinite period. It just keeps fermenting. No shocking smells as you would expect with rotting food waste.

When you’re ready to process your food waste into compost, open a hole in your compost pile and add the food waste. Close the hole up and let Mother Nature take care of the rest. Super simple and really good for the planet.