Skip to main content

Tips and recipes to not waste food this Christmas

Food is certainly one of the most important parts of Christmas (and at any celebration). During these special occasions with family and friends, it's common for us to cook more and for there to be leftovers, despite foregoing large gatherings this year. Just in case, we've prepared some tips and recipes so that nothing goes to waste. 

It's always been important to us to ensure that resources aren't wasted. This especially rings true this year, with the pandemic affecting many families this holiday season. That's why we've set out to do our part and provide some tips to help you make the most of your food during the Christmas season.

Simple steps to help you save money and help us all move towards a more sustainable society. Of course, these tricks aren't just for the Christmas season—they're for when you have leftovers any time of year. It may not seem like it, but leftovers can become an entire feast with a little bit of imagination… Let's see how! 

How to best store leftovers

The first step to not wasting a single gram of food is to store it properly after the festivities are over. Here are some tips in order to best store your leftovers:   

  • Use glass containers: this material doesn't absorb odours, thus food is preserved better. It also won't get stained with sauces and it's oven- and microwave-safe, so you can heat up your food without having to place it in another container.   
  • Invest in quality lids: if you want your food to stay fresh for longer, it's essential that the container's lid fits just right. When using a food container, we recommend that you use either a sealed lid, which prevents both freezer burn and liquid spills, or a silicone lid, such as those in our IKEA 365+ series, which creates a vacuum seal that helps to keep foods fresh and maintain the temperature. When using other containers, such as a salad bowl or a dish, we recommend ÖVERMÄTT, soft and stretchable silicone food covers that can adapt to various sizes and help to preserve food. And the best thing about them? They're reusable, making them a much more sustainable choice than cling film or foil.  
  • Don't mix foods: to best preserve your leftovers, it's best to store foods separately and avoid putting everything in the same container. This will keep flavours or liquids from mixing, keeping your food fresher for longer.   
  • Write the date on your containers: this way, you won't need to try to remember which foods are from when, and you'll know what to eat first. If you follow our recommendation and choose glass containers, you'll know exactly what's on hand at a glance. However, if you use an opaque container, apart from the date, you can also jot down what food is inside so you don't need to open it.   

Where to store leftovers

Once your leftovers are properly covered and labelled in containers, it's time to decide where's best to store them: the fridge or freezer? This will depend mainly on two factors. Namely, the type of food and when you plan to eat it. If you plan on eating it soon, you don't need to freeze it; however, if you're going away or have other meals planned, freezing is recommended so that your food doesn't spoil.

But it's important to bear in mind whether or not freezing the type of food in question is recommended. Freezing certain types of food, such as dairy products, pasta, rice etc. can have a negative impact on their flavour or texture, so freezing is not recommended.

Whether you food goes in the fridge or freezer, it's important to stack your containers in an organised way, as seen in the picture, so that they're easily accessible and none get forgotten. And, like we said, both labelling and transparent containers will help you to find them that much better.  

Recipes that use leftovers to prevent food waste 

And now that we've seen some tips on how and where to store leftovers, let's have a look at some recipes to take advantage of our leftovers. Shall we get started? 

1. Lasagne

Lasagne is a dish loved by most, especially the little ones. And best of all, many different foods can be used to make it (meat, fish, vegetables etc.), so it's the perfect option to take advantage of any leftovers on hand. So, for example, if you're using meat leftovers as the base for your lasagne, you'll need the following ingredients

  • Lasagne pasta sheets (you can also substitute with fine slices of courgette or aubergine) 
  • 1 onion 
  • Tomato sauce  
  • Grated cheese (any variety you have on hand)
  • ½ litre of milk 
  • 2 tbsp. of flour  
  • ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Oregano 
  • Salt 

Method:  

  1. Chop up both your meat leftovers and the onion.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, add a small amount of olive oil and, when it's hot, sauté the onion.
  3. Add your meat and the tomato sauce. Mix well, add a bit of oregano and set the mixture aside.
  4. Follow the instructions on the pasta packaging to cook the lasagne sheets. If you've opted to use aubergine or courgette in lieu of pasta, cut them into thin, long slices. 
  5. Start preparing the béchamel by warming up a tablespoon of olive oil over low heat.
  6. Add the flour and stir with a whisk until golden. 
  7. Add the milk and nutmeg. Stir for 4 to 5 minutes until you get a smooth, even mixture.
  8. Assemble the lasagne in a glass baking dish: start with a layer of pasta sheets or vegetables, then a bit of béchamel, then the meat and tomato mixture; continue adding as many layers as you like. 
  9. Cover the last layer with grated cheese and bake at 180ºC for 15–20 minutes until the cheese has melted. 

2. Vegetable sauces or purées

Do you have leftover vegetables that you can't find a use for? A great idea is to make a vegetable sauce or purée. For example, if you have leftover tomatoes, you can make a delicious home-made tomato sauce. There's nothing to it!

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt 

Method:  

  1. Chop the tomatoes. 
  2. Chop the onion and julienne the pepper.
  3. Place a saucepan over heat with a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. 
  4. Sauté the onion and pepper together until the onion has cooked through. 
  5. Add the tomatoes and let it simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. 
  6. Then blend the sauce to a smooth consistency, season with salt and pepper and simmer again on low heat for 30 minutes. And it’s ready!

If you have other leftover vegetables, such as courgette, carrots or pumpkin, you can make these into purées. All you'll need to do is cook them (if they're still raw), sauté them with some onion in extra-virgin olive oil to add a little flavour, add just the right amount of water, salt and spices to taste, and blend away! Healthy, delicious and quick.

3. Meatballs 

Last but not least, some mouth-watering meatballs! Although the classic recipe calls for meat, you can also make them from fish or legumes.   

No matter which you choose, all you'll need to do is mix the meat, fish or legumes (after each has been chopped up), in a bowl with two eggs, ground nutmeg and fresh parsley. You can also add minced onion and garlic, either raw or sautéed.  

When your mixture is even throughout, just form balls with your hands in any size you wish and cook them in either a frying pan with olive oil, or in the oven at 180ºC for around 20 minutes. You can eat them as is or accompany them with a delicious home-made sauce, like the one we prepared in the previous recipe. The choice is yours!  

Have you taken note? From all of us at IKEA, we hope you have a merry Christmas and savour every bite. We've also included some articles with other tips to make the most of your food and some recipes that may interest you. 

We love it when customers use our products in a creative way. Why not try to do something new with them yourself? But do remember, any modifications or changes that you make to IKEA products will prevent them from being resold or used for their original purpose, thus invalidating IKEA product warranties and your right to return them.