For many people, family and food are what Christmas is all about. With a little bit of thought and planning we can make this the season of goodwill – and say no to the season of the landfill.

Did you know Kiwis throw away over 157,000 tonnes of food each year?

That's enough to feed everyone in Dunedin for nearly three years!

A good tip from Love Food Hate Waste New Zealand is to eat your way through your freezer in the weeks before Christmas so you have room to freeze leftovers on the big day. Make sure you have containers to store leftover food.

Having a Christmas day menu and a shopping list also helps reduce food waste, although you don’t know how much guests are going to eat! Include items like pizza bases on your shopping list so you can turn leftover ham and turkey into easy pizza meals.

Many Kiwis are moving to lighter Xmas dinners and you can reduce your carbon emissions by serving more vegetables and less meat – the vegetarian and vegan Xmas is also an option. Buying local produce is good for our economy and helps reduce your carbon footprint. That isn’t a hardship in New Zealand where strawberries and greens are in full swing.

Avoiding upset stomachs and food poisoning is always a plus. We love a table groaning with food but you can serve smaller platters on Xmas day and refill them from the fridge if needed. After the meal, make sure you refrigerate perishable food such as poultry as quickly as possible. A lot of food gets thrown out because it has been sitting at room temperature in the middle of a Kiwi summer for a long time. After a few drinks, we may struggle to remember how long the food has been sitting in the hot sun.

If there is lots of leftover food, many guests will be happy to take home a container of food. One of the great things about Xmas is waking up on Boxing Day to leftovers – and not having to worry about cooking.

For people who can’t face leftovers on Boxing Day, there’s the freezer. Meat can be frozen once in its uncooked state and again in its cooked state (just don’t store them together). Milk, bread, even cheese can be frozen too.

If you are inspired to cook, turn those leftovers into easy, tasty meals.

Check out these great ideas from Love Food Hate Waste(external link)

If you aren’t already composting, those lazy days after Xmas may be just the time to start a compost bin and dispose of fruit and vegetable food scrap.