Smart Consumer: How to cut down on food waste this Christmas
The turkey and ham are ordered, the plum pudding was made weeks ago and your fridge and shelves are already stocked to the brim. Yes, as ever we are going to eat as much as we can this Christmas.
Today or tomorrow, you may be planning another visit to your local supermaket for those last-minute buys; more Brussels sprouts, more cream and some more smoked salmon in case the cousins call around.
But here's the shocker: 30% of all the food we buy ends up in the bin. That is the equivalent of each household chucking away up to €1,000 a year. Now that's a hit we could all do without.
The worst part is that we all know we do it. 97% of respondents in a national survey conducted by STOP Food Waste, a new programme launched last month by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), admitted they were bothered about throwing out food, but 45% said they did little or nothing to prevent it.
Food waste in Irish homes increases substantially over Christmas, but "with a little forward planning and preparation this can be avoided," says Odile le Bolloch of STOP Food Waste.
"It can be avoided by either not over-purchasing in the first place, or finding ways of incorporating the over-supply into meals or drinks -- such as festive deserts in the case of fruit, or into soup in the case of vegetables, or turkey stuffing in the case of stale bread," advises Odile.
Along with top chef Kevin Thornton and Donal Skehan of thegoodmoodfoodblog.com, Rachel Allen is involved in the campaign and says that it's something she is passionate about. "Saving by not wasting food is never as relevant as it is now," says Rachel.
"For example, if you have a couple of slices of bread going stale, box or bag it and put in the freezer.
"Then when you have enough, whizz it in a food processor for breadcrumbs and use from the freezer as needed."
She has been taught well; Rachel says her mum is the "queen of soups" and her mother-in-law Darina Allen always insists a spatula is used to get every last bit from a bowl.
"That could be an extra portion", explains Rachel, "or your profit, if you're in business."
Put that way, it makes it clear how smart being careful about your food usage is.
We throw out 300kg of black bin rubbish a year, and about a third of that is food waste. This equates to an astonishing 3,750 apples.
Instead, start this Christmas by getting more meals out of the food you buy, more mileage for your euro and spend less on black bin charges.