The 10 most wasted Christmas foods - and how to use them

The equivalent of more than 4.2 million Christmas dinners will be scraped into the bin at Christmas, new research shows, so how can you make sure you use up everything you buy?

Last year, it was shockingly predicted that more than 4.2 million Christmas dinners will be scraped into the bin at Christmas.

We look into the most wasted Christmas foods and how to use them, so you can make sure you use up everything you buy for the festive season.

Christmas is a time for giving, and sadly also for wasting.

In fact, so much food gets wasted during our festive period, it's the equivalent of scraping more than 4.2 million Christmas dinners into the bin according to research conducted at Christmas 2015.

Just FYI, there will be enough gravy down the drain to fill an entire olympic sized pool.

The survey, carried out as part of Unilever's Project Sunlight Clear A Plate campaign, demonstrates that the average person will spend £112 on their Christmas meal - a sum of money that would usually feed an average family  for four whole days.

So, heres how to make sure you're staying savvy this year and keeping the waste to a minimum.

10. Christmas puddings: 740,000 

SO many Christmas puddings are thrown away, but this is one Christmas food that keeps. Make a Christmas pudding crumble and we promise you won't need to keep it for long.

9. Pigs in blankets: 7.1 million

Pigs in blankets have never gone spare in our house, quite the opposite - we fight over them! Don't even think of throwing them away, they add a salty crispiness to a turkey sandwich, so make sure you squish a few in with the turkey slices and cranberry sauce in fresh crusty bread.

Get more ideas for your Christmas leftovers with our Christmas leftovers recipes.

8. Mince pies: 7.5 million

Summer spice chocolate ice

Can't get anyone to manage another mince pie? We understand, you can hit a wall with those little things. That's why we save ours in an airtight container then give them a new lease of life in this easy mince pie ice cream.

This is more than just chocolate ice cream - warming cinnamon, orange chocolate and cream make this ultra-decadent.

Get the recipe: Summer spice chocolate ice cream

Stuffed pork wrapped in bacon

Slimming World’s stuffed pork wrapped in bacon

Stuffing brings Christmas dinner together and it can do the same in a really excellent Christmas sandwich, crammed in with turkey, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce instead of ketchup. Or fry it up as a meaty addition to bubble and squeak - just make sure it's piping hot all the way through before you eat it.

Get the recipe: Slimming World's Stuffed Pork Wrapped in Bacon

6. Turkey: 7.9 million slices

Unbelievably, the equivalent of 263,000 turkeys are thrown away at Christmas. Think of all the turkey sandwiches you could make! Not convinced? Take a look at our 16 epic Christmas sandwich ideas to get your turkey juices flowing. 

Or wrap it with cling film and pop in the fridge to make turkey curry, a Christmas turkey pie or turkey fajitas the next day - don't forget, you can keep roast turkey covered in the fridge for two days, so no need to scoff it all the next day. Instead, try some of our turkey leftovers recipes.

5. Gravy: 9.8 million cups

That's enough fill an Olympic sized swimming pool, which is sad because it can be easily saved and used again. 

Once your gravy has cooled, pour it into an ice cube tray and pop in the freezer. The next time you're making a casserole or this Chianti beef stew, pop a couple into your stock to give it richness. Or you can turn it into a Boxing Day dinner by frying up other leftovers together, like turkey strips, onions and other veg, pour in the gravy and simmer - adding a little water if it's too thick. Top with mash for a quick and easy pie.

4. Parsnips: 10.9 million

4. Parsnips: 10.9 million

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

Cover leftover roast parsnips and store in the fridge, then warm them through and mash like crazy with a little extra butter and herbs to make a side for Boxing Day dinner or go for an easy parsnip soup with apple and sage. We confess we like ours as a cheeky extra in a Christmas sandwich, even cold.

3. Potatoes: 11.3 million

That's a lot of potatoes. There's no excuse really, because everyone loves potatoes and they are so versatile. Pan fry them before the Downton Abbey Christmas special and squish them into your Christmas sandwich, or cover them and pop them in the fridge to make bubble and squeak on Boxing Day. 

Use them to make a Spanish tortilla by crushing them and frying with egg. Or roughly mash them and shape them into fish cakes. You've got so many options, as long as you don't scrape them into the bin.

2. Carrots: 9 million

Honey carrots recipe

The number of carrots thrown away would reach from London to Munich, or could feed your family instead... Transform leftover carrots into a nutritious carrot and ginger soup, which will give you a vitamin boost.


Trusted, informative, and empathetic – GoodToKnow is the ultimate online destination for mums. Established in 2007, our 15-year-strong archive of content includes more than 18,000 articles, 1,500 how-to videos, and 7,000 recipes.