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Waste not, feast lots: Creative ways to minimise festive waste and transform your Christmas leftovers

These recipes require minimal effort so you can focus on the important things this year  (Gousto)
These recipes require minimal effort so you can focus on the important things this year (Gousto)

When it gets to that time of year between Christmas and New Year, sometimes known as Betwixmas, it’s not unusual to find yourself surrounded by mountains of Christmas leftovers. With turkey coming out of your ears, and enough leftover pudding to feed all of Santa’s elves, it can feel a bit overwhelming to find inventive ways to use up your Christmas dinner leftovers.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a selection of tips and tricks that will help you whip up a festive storm and prevent your leftovers from going to waste.

Most importantly, these tips and recipes all require minimal effort so that you can focus on the important things from this time of year, like a festive movie marathon and figuring out how to put together the toys that Santa brought down the chimney.

Planning is key

The number one thing you can do to lower your food waste over Christmas is to plan ahead and resist the urge to impulse buy. Work out how much food you’ll need – especially if you’re hosting (and remember your guests will probably bring some food with them) – and make a shopping list.

Planning is especially important when it comes to use-by dates. When buying meat, dairy or other fresh produce, check out that use-by date to make sure you won’t have to throw it away before you need it.

It all starts with storage

Marie Kondo your fridge to reduce food waste by keeping your ready-to-eat foods at the top, dairy in the middle, and raw meat at the bottom. Pop all your fresh fruit and veg in the drawers, and just like that, you’re a food waste-fighting machine. This will help you reduce any food waste across the festive season.

Most fruit and veg will last longer if you store it properly. Stopping your fresh fruit and veg going bad in the first place is an easy way to reduce food waste. Here are two storage blunders that many of us make in the kitchen:

Potatoes (for your perfect roasties) need to breathe, so it’s best to store them in a cardboard box or paper bag in a cool, dark place. Never in the fridge! And remember that you can still eat them if they’ve started to sprout.

Citrus fruit, especially lemons and limes, will harden when stored in a fruit bowl at room temperature. To keep fresh and juicy for longer, so you can complement your post-dinner gin and tonic, store them in the fridge.

Don’t neglect your scraps

Once you’ve just finished baking, roasting or frying up a delicious feast, and you’re about to throw away all your leftover food scraps, always take a moment to think about where your waste is going. Here are a few unexpected scraps that you can use up instead of throwing them away.

Beetroot tops can be used as a substitute for greens, like spinach, swiss chard and bok choy. They can be steamed, sauteed, braised, added to soups, or even eaten raw. Sautee the stems with a little garlic, orange and shallot to enjoy them tender and crispy – the perfect side to add something different to your Christmas lunch. Just make sure to rinse them well and they’re good to go!

Boiling veg for a side of your Christmas dinner? Once the veg is suitably tender, drain over a pot and use the water to make your gravy. This is packed with nutrients to give your festive feast a health boost.

If you’re not quite sure how to use up the skins of your potatoes and carrots, cutting them up and roasting in olive oil with plenty of salt and pepper makes delicious vegetable chips, the perfect snack to accompany an afternoon full of Christmas movies and toy building.

Bring limp vegetables back to life

How many times have you looked in the fridge after Christmas day and seen a few soft carrots and broccoli left over from the roast? Most of us banish limp vegetables to the bin, but you can actually salvage them very easily.

You can bring carrots back to life by cutting a bit off the bottom and place upright in a glass of cold water until firmed up. If your carrots are already cut, you can place them in a bowl of cool water.

Trim the bottom off a head of broccoli and pop in a glass of water. If you have cut florets, place in a bowl of water until plumped up and crisp.

If you reach a point where you’ve exhausted all leftover recipes, why not donate to a local foodbank? It’s worth checking what they need before you turn up, but many will be incredibly grateful for your leftover donations.

Christmas leftover recipes

These are some festive favourite recipes from Gousto that will mix it up from the usual bubble and squeak. From sweet to savoury, there’s something for everyone.

Chocolate orange yule log with leftover Christmas pudding

Make those chocolate oranges – and Christmas – go a little further with a leftover yule log (Gousto)
Make those chocolate oranges – and Christmas – go a little further with a leftover yule log (Gousto)

Serves: 8-10

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

3 eggs (separated into yolks and whites)

75g caster sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder

50g plain flour

For the filling:

150ml brandy cream (or double cream)

30g icing sugar

200g Christmas pudding

For the topping:

150g unsalted butter (softened)

150g icing sugar

75g Terry’s Chocolate Orange Dark

75g Terry’s Chocolate Orange Milk

Extra icing sugar to garnish

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C (fan)/400F/gas 6.

Line a 9 x 13inch baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.

Add the egg whites to a stand mixer and beat until stiff peaks form, then turn off and keep to one side.

Add the egg yolks to a separate large bowl with the caster sugar and mix well with a wooden spoon or until combined.

Sift the cocoa powder into the egg yolks and mix together again.

Using a large metal spoon, carefully fold the egg whites through the egg yolk mixture (make sure you don’t knock out too much air!) until well combined.

Sift over the plain flour and fold through carefully.

Spread the cake mix evenly into the baking tray, then put into the oven. Bake for 10-11 min or until the cake is cooked through.

Once cooked, remove the tray from the oven and keep aside for 2 min.

Place a clean tea towel over the baking tray, then flip the cake over. Whilst the cake is still hot, use the tea towel to help you roll the cake lengthways into a tight log shape. Leave aside like this until completely cool.

Meanwhile, whip the brandy cream in a stand mixer with the icing sugar until soft peaks form then remove to another bowl (don’t bother washing the stand mixer bowl!).

Put the Terry’s chocolate segments into a small heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water – make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water! Stir until melted then remove the bowl from the pan and let cool slightly.

Into the same stand mixer, add the softened unsalted butter with the icing sugar. Stir with a spoon, then beat until combined.

Slowly pour in the melted chocolate and beat until mixed. This is your chocolate buttercream.

Once the cake has cooled, carefully unroll and remove the tea towel.

Spread the whipped brandy cream over the cake, then crumble over the leftover Christmas pudding. Re-roll the yule log lengthways, pushing in any filling that falls out, until the seam is underneath the log.

Spread the buttercream all over the cake and use a small knife to make lines to resemble a tree log. Trim the ends to neaten then put in the fridge for at least 30 min to set.

Dust with some sifted icing sugar, if liked, and serve to your guests!

Leftover Christmas turkey nuggets

If you can still tolerate turkey after the big day, these nuggets will go down a treat (Gousto)
If you can still tolerate turkey after the big day, these nuggets will go down a treat (Gousto)

Serves: 6

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

250g cooked turkey can be white or dark meat or a mix of the two

2 slices white bread

50ml milk

5g parsley

1 shallot

1 garlic clove

1 egg

50g flour

60g panko breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil (for frying)

Method:

Place the slices of bread in a dish and pour over the milk and set to one side. Peel and finely chop the garlic and shallot and finely chop the parsley. Heat a pan with a small amount of oil over a medium heat and fry the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until translucent.

Add the soaked bread, onion and garlic mixture, parsley and cooked turkey with a pinch of salt and pepper to a food processor and blend until almost smooth.

Crack the egg into a shallow bowl and mix well. Add the remaining flour to a plate and season with salt and pepper, then add the panko breadcrumbs to another plate.

Remove 1/6th of the mixture at a time and form into a rough nuggets shape. Coat each nugget in the flour, tap off the excess, then add to the beaten egg and finally press it into the breadcrumbs firmly to evenly coat all over.

Heat a wide non-stick frying pan (with a matching lid) with 1 inch of vegetable oil. Fry the nuggets for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oil and drain on a cooling rack over kitchen roll. Alternatively, you can place them on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and bake in an oven preheated to 200C/180 fan/gas 6 for 20 minutes.

Christmas leftovers pot pie

Not time for faff? Chuck all your leftovers all in a big ’ol pie (Gousto)
Not time for faff? Chuck all your leftovers all in a big ’ol pie (Gousto)

Serves: 6-8

Active time: 30 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients:

320g ready-rolled puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

400-500g cooked turkey meat, torn into bite-size pieces

400-500g mixed roast vegetables, such as potatoes, peas, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, and sprouts

200-300g cooked ham, diced

1 generous handful mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary or tarragon, roughly chopped

For the sauce:

45g butter

2 leeks, washes and roughly chopped

2 tbsp plain flour

250ml leftover gravy and 250ml chicken stock or 500ml chicken stock

3 tsp dijon mustard

200ml pouring cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C (fan).

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add the leeks and a little salt.

Cook, stirring regularly for about 7 minutes until the leeks have softened.

Add the flour and stir for another minute.

Add the stock mixture and mustard a little at a time so your sauce doesn’t go lumpy. Then bring to a simmer, stirring continuously for 2 minutes until slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat, add the pouring cream and season to taste. Then set aside to cool.

Once the sauce is cooled, combine the filling ingredients in a 25cm pie dish and mix well. Pour over the sauce and stir again to mix through.

Dust your countertop with a little flour and roll out the pastry a little thinner so it’s a bit bigger than the top of the pie dish.

Lightly brush the edge of the pie dish with egg wash and gently lay the pastry over the filing. Trim the overhang with a sharp knife and use a fork to gently press around the edge, securing the pastry to the dish.

If you prefer, roll the off-cuts a little thinner, and use them to decorate the top of the pie. Brush the pie top with egg wash and make several small holes with the tip of a sharp knife for steam to escape.

Place the pie on a baking tray and bake for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is well risen and golden.

Leftover pastry mince pies

There’s no need to throw away that leftover pastry – just make more mince pies (Gousto)
There’s no need to throw away that leftover pastry – just make more mince pies (Gousto)

Makes: 12

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

320g shortcrust pastry (scale up/down the recipe based on how much pastry you have leftover)

250g mincemeat

Egg or milk to glaze

Icing sugar to decorate

Method:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200C/180C fan. Using a 3 inch cutter (or a glass) cut out 12 circles of pastry and line the holes of a bun tin.

Fill each pastry circle with a large teaspoon of mincemeat. Optional – cut out festive shapes from remaining pastry and place on top of the pies.

Brush the pastry with beaten egg or milk then place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack until room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

Brussels sprout and garam masala tart

This tart might convince even the most stubborn Brussels hater (Gousto)
This tart might convince even the most stubborn Brussels hater (Gousto)

Serves: 2

Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

40g cheddar cheese

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric

200g Brussels sprouts

1 tsp nigella seeds

160g puff pastry

5g coriander

2 garlic cloves

1 red chilli

50g lamb’s lettuce

1 brown onion

300g waxy potatoes

20g mango chutney

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C (fan)/gas 6. Boil a full kettle. Add your waxy potatoes to a pot of plenty of boiled water with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil over a high heat. Once boiling, cook for 12-15 min or until fork-tender, then drain and allow to steam.

While the potatoes are boiling, peel and finely dice your brown onion. Peel and finely chop (or grate) your garlic. Cut your red chilli in half lengthways, deseed (scrape the seeds out with a teaspoon) and chop finely.

Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a drizzle of olive oil over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the diced onion, chopped garlic, and half the chopped chilli (can’t handle the heat? Go easy!) with a pinch of salt and cook for 5-6 min or until softened.

Meanwhile, trim the ends from your Brussels sprouts, then finely slice. Once the onion has softened, add your ground turmeric, garam masala and a splash of water and cook for 1 min. Add the sliced Brussels sprouts to the pan with a knob of butter and cook for 7-8 min further or until softened.

While the sprouts are softening, grate your cheddar cheese and chop the coriander finely, including the stalks. Once softened, add your mango chutney, grated cheese and half the chopped coriander (save the rest for garnish!). Season with a pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper and give everything a good mix up – this is your Brussels sprout & garam masala tart filling.

Dust your work surface with a generous sprinkling of flour. Unwrap your puff pastry and roll it out to approx. 0.5cm thickness with a rolling pin and cut into 1 square per person. Transfer the pastry square to a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and score a 1cm border around the edge of the pastry with a knife. Top the centre of pastry square with the Brussels sprout & garam masala tart filling.

Add the drained potatoes to a baking tray and crush gently. Add a drizzle of olive oil, your nigella seeds and a generous pinch of salt – these are your nigella smashed potatoes.

Put the Brussels sprout and garam masala tarts and nigella smashed potatoes in the oven for 15-20 min or until the pastry is golden and cooked through and the potatoes are caramelised.

Wash your lamb’s lettuce, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Serve the Brussels sprout and garam masala tart with the nigella smashed potatoes and lamb’s lettuce to the side. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a grind of pepper to the lamb’s lettuce. Top the tart with the remaining chopped coriander and chopped chilli (not a fan of spice? Just add a little!).

Recipes from Gousto, the UK’s best value recipe box, offering 75 meals weekly from £3.14. Visit gousto.co.uk for more information and recipe inspiration.