Saves you money
Adds variety to your diet
Helps the environment
May be out of date.
Christmas food is unappetising after Christmas
Can be fattening
Needs some effort on your part
As Christmas approaches it is hard to imagine that you will have left over Christmas food, isn't it? People seem to feel that they will have to feed the five thousand at Christmas and so shop accordingly.
After all of this mammoth grocery shopping, is it really any wonder that, most of our refrigerators and store cupboards are still bursting at the seams, well into the New Year?
A lot will depend on how many visitors you had over the holidays and just how efficiently you did your Christmas food and drink shopping, but most of us will have some unused items. Sometimes this is becuase our Christmas plans did not turn out quite as we expected. This can leave us with much more left over food than usual. Either way, usually everyone just gets fed up with overindulging and by Boxing Day most visitors are declining food and drink.
So, whether you are left with a mountain or a molehill of food and drink, just what do you do with it all?
Firstly you need to make sure that leftovers are still fresh enough to eat. Check the expiry and use by dates, where possible. Make sure that the food with the shortest date is at the front of your store cupboards, in order that it is used first. Once you have noted what you have left to use, and when by, you can decide what to serve.
Old recipe books may offer inspiration.
Browse your old recipe books and on-line cooking sites for some tasty and unusual ways to use up your holiday food and drink. By January most of us are sick and tired of traditional Christmas fare and you may find that simple basic recipes will offer a good solution.
Left over baking stock.
- Use left over eggs, flour, fats and sugar in some traditional recipes. If you have left over apples, that are a little past their best, make apple pies or apple crumble. You can then use up your custard and cream as toppings.
- Make a batch of quick and easy scones so that you can use up any left over dried fruits such as currants and sultanas.
- Left over meat can be made into pies with just a basic pastry recipe. Create a warming winter meal of meat and vegetable pie or use old potatoes up and cook a Cottage Pie.
- Bake a classic Victoria sponge cake so that you use up some cream also.
Leftover meat and fish.
- Take care to only use meat that is still fresh.
- Make curries and pasta dishes which only require a few other basic ingredients.
- Mince the leftover meat in order to make a shepherd or cottage pie. As already stated this dish will also use up your old potatoes, for the mash on top.
- Left over fish can also be made into a fish pie with either mashed potatoes or pastry.
- Packed lunches for you and the family can use up many leftovers but you may find that Turkey sandwiches, just after Christmas, are not very welcome. It is far better to use your imagination and be creative, serving up unusual meals that are a little different. After all most of us are fed up of the same old stuff by the end of December.
- Use meat and vegetables to make some hearty home-made soups
Christmas puddings and traditional Christmas Cake usually have a very long expiry date and can be eaten next Autumn or even saved for next Christmas.
Christmas cake can also be crumbled into a rich vanilla ice cream. It can also be served as a hot dessert with custard. This is good for using up mince pies also. Make sure that you remove the icing and marzipan from the cake before you add custard though.
Feeding the birds.
Treat the local birds and throw out small pieces of your old bread. Fry it first to add a little fat to help to keep the birds warm in the cold weather. You can also feed the birds with some of your left over nuts, perhaps broken down a little, and add slices of apple.
Use your vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells and any fruit and vegetables that are too old to be eaten to make compost. You can also add dead flowers and newspapers.
Freeze what you can.
A few weeks after Christmas, when money is tight, you may wish that you had been more cost effective with your leftovers. Research what can be frozen efficiently. Some vegetables and fruit will need blanching before freezing. Research the details first so that you do not waste you time and energy.
Stale bread can be grated down and then frozen to use as bread crumbs. Similarly old biscuits can be broken into a crumbly mix and frozen to use eventually for a biscuit base for cheesecakes.
Leftover cheese can be grated and then stored in the freezer for use on toast, as a pizza topping, on scones or whatever takes your fancy.
Make a tasty smoothie with leftover fresh fruit. Alternatively stew appropriate fruits and keep chilled in the fridge to add to plain yogurt or as a breakfast cereal topping.
Milk that is in date can be used to make homemade rice pudding and wholesome porridge especially on cold winter mornings.
Usually alcohol has a long shelf life and can be saved for later in the year, for birthday parties or maybe visitors. This may not be true of some beers though. Check the use by dates on soft drinks also.
Throw a post Christmas party.
Of course, you could help cure everyone's post Christmas blues and throw a post Christmas party. Everyone could bring something from their own leftovers and it would be a great way to use up yours, especially the alcohol.
Give a little.
Perhaps you have some elderly neighbours who struggle with money, and maybe did not have such an indulgent Christmas? Either invite them round for a meal or give them some treats from your left over food and drink store.
Use your imagination, with what left over food and drink you have. Organise your left overs first, in order to prioritise and make the best use of them. Once you start experimenting you may be surprised at what you can make and what foods may go together.
You may even invent what is to become a firm family favourite and you will definitely help your cash flow.
Finally perhaps you need to consider economising next Christmas. If you have too many left overs then probably you are buying too much, which is such a waste of money. Plan ahead for Christmas next year, NOW, to make sure that you do not make the same shopping mistakes next year.