British households look set to throw out nearly 200,000 tonnes of food this Christmas – the equivalent of more than 6.6 million bins full of waste

By Richard Jenkins
Friday, 17th December 2021, 3:53 pm
Updated Friday, 17th December 2021, 3:54 pm

Research of 2,000 adults who celebrate the festive period revealed they will be forking out an estimated £146 to stock their fridge and cupboards – but will end up binning £79 of that.

Respondents believe their household will throw away around seven kilos of food, which based on the 24.8 million households in the UK, equates to a staggering 194,600 tonnes of waste.

Cuts of turkey and ham, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes and pigs-in-blankets are among the foods adding to the UK’s hulking food waste mountains.

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Ana Sanchez, spokesperson for Schwartz, which commissioned the research said: “Food waste is a growing issue, and one that intensifies over the Christmas period when fridges fill up - but not everything gets eaten.

“Loving your leftovers is something we’re particularly passionate about.

“That’s why, this year, we’re encouraging the nation to turn to the herb and spice rack to help hack the senses and reinvigorate meal times post-December 25th.

“If we can all get a little creative in the kitchen this holiday, the impact on food waste could be phenomenal.”

The study also found that 18 per cent of those polled cook all the food they buy but then throw it away when it doesn’t get eaten.

But, 63 per cent said binning food makes them feel bad, with one in seven planning to be more mindful when it comes to food waste.

Brits spend more on Christmas food

On average British residents spend £34 more on their Christmas food shop than their regular food shop.

Top reasons for spending more included loving Christmas food, wanting to have too much than not enough and hosting lots of friends and family.

Potatoes, Brussels sprouts and carrots are the festive food items most commonly thrown away, and 59 per cent believe more food is thrown away over Christmas than at any other time of year.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll, found 15 per cent admitted to still throwing food away even if it looks and smells okay but is out of date, and one in 13 rarely use herbs and spices to make their leftovers more interesting.

But 35 per cent have tried to make new recipes from the Christmas leftovers, although 37 per cent of those think these recipes are too complicated to follow.

Creative Neuro Scientist and Futurist’ Katherine Templar Lewis believes spices could be the secret to stopping the ballooning tide of food waste clogging UK landfills.

She said: “Making a turkey curry or using cinnamon to create a whole new dish is a really easy way to whip up excitement in the kitchen post-December 25th while slashing Britain’s food mountains.

“We need to remember that Christmas is a multi-sensory experience, with sounds, smells and colours all contributing to our experience. And the right herbs and spices can work in our favour.

“Yellow in turmeric, for example, can lift our mood, while the smell of rosemary can help combat brain fog… something that’s particularly common in the days following Christmas celebrations.”

Festive food items Brits end up throwing away

1.            Potatoes

2.            Brussels sprouts

3.            Carrots

4.            Condiments – mint sauce/ cranberry sauce etc.

5.            Turkey

6.            Broccoli

7.            Gravy

8.            Stuffing

9.            Cauliflower cheese

10.          Parsnips

11.          Christmas pudding

12.          Yorkshire puddings

13.          Bread sauce

14.          Sweetcorn

15.          Gammon

16.          Pigs in blankets

17.          Prawns

18.          Red cabbage

19.          Christmas chocolates

20.          Profiteroles

Sensory Hacks - From Schwartz and Katherine Templar Lewis

Trick your eyes

Choose your colours wisely. For example, yellow evokes happiness, and has been scientifically proven to lift our mood. By adding yellow-based herbs and spices like turmeric to festive food, we can trick our brains in to feeling more upbeat and positive.

Trick your ears

The sound of sausages, veg and spices sizzling (including bubble and squeak) has a name: pink noise. It’s a sound found in nature, and at its frequency, the brain can’t tell the difference between cooking and rainfall.  Because our brain automatically thinks it’s the latter, it produces alpha waves that increase happiness, boost relaxation and creativity. Great for counteracting the post-Christmas slump.

Trick your nose

Smell activates the limbic system, often known as the memory part of our brain. It can evoke memories which have a tendency to lift our mood, particularly during the festive season. There are medicinal benefits, too. Even the smell of garlic has molecules that are good for your immune system, meaning it can help keep colds at bay. Scents like rosemary can help memory and clear brand fog.

Trick your tastebuds

New and intriguing tastes evoke delight. Using a combination of herbs and spices can significantly kickstart our metabolism during Christmas downtime, particularly when we opt for things like chilli and Cajun seasoning.

Come together

Food is a multisensory experience, and that extends to the experience of eating, too. Sitting round a table with people makes us produce chemicals like oxytocin, making people happier and more loved. Plus, when we do something good, we produce chemicals that not only make us feel good, but genuinely support our wellbeing and immune system. The positive chemicals that are released from eating a fulfilling meal or being surrounded by loved ones can counteract key stress chemicals like cortisol.