Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
Over the 12 days of Christmas, Australian households will throw at least $200 million worth of food into their rubbish bins.

That means thousands of tonnes of turkey, cakes and salads will go to landfill in less than two weeks, says Rosemary Cadden, co-author of Making a Meal of It, a user's guide to making the most of the food we feel most guilty about wasting.

Here are some ideas for using up some of the most common festive fare, plus tips on how to store those excess food purchases, to make them last longer. You'll find these and more in Making a Meal of It (Wakefield Press), by Rosemary Cadden and Jane Willcox.

  • On the 1st day of Christmas: It’s Christmas Day and we’re busy opening our presents, but don’t forget to stuff the stuffed turkey back in the fridge. After 4 hours at room temperature, you’re in danger of serving up a dollop of food poisoning with those turkey slices.
  • On the 2nd day of Christmas: Follow the suggestion of "Do Something!" founder Jon Dee, who named Boxing Day "National Leftover Day", and have a party! Impress your pals with turkey mango salad: mix together cooked turkey (or chicken), maybe some ham, chopped cucumber, chopped coriander and finely sliced red onion. Blend together mango, grated rind and juice of a lemon and olive oil for the dressing.
  • On the 3rd day of Christmas: Overload of avocados? Treat the kids to avocado and banana ice blocks, and make the big kids avocado shakes – with a taste of honey, lemon, orange or mint.
  • On the 4th day of Christmas: Those bunches of herbs are in danger of drooping. Easy answer: freeze them in sprigs or in ice-cube trays for another day!
  • On the 5th Day of Christmas: How’s that ham going? Think about freezing some of it. There’s only so much ham one can take day after day…
  • On the 6th Day of Christmas: soft biscuits gone soggy? Put a piece of apple or bread in the container for 24 hours. Crisp biscuits gone soggy too? Put them in a low oven for a few minutes before serving – you can only do this once though!
  • On the 7th day of Christmas: It’s New Year’s Eve and space must be found in the fridge for the beer and champagne. Time to use up all those bits of sponge cake, Christmas cake and chocolate cake to make lamingtons, truffles, rum balls and trifle for yet another party, party, party!
  • On the 8th day of Christmas: That bumper bag of capsicum seemed a good idea at the time. Never fear. There are lots of ideas for baking, stewing, roasting and, of course, stuffing.
  • On the 9th day of Christmas: What are you going to do with all those bits of leftover cheese? How about quiche, vegie bake, frittata or risotto?
  • On the 10th day of Christmas: Stop crying over sliced onions: use those goggles you got for Christmas to tearlessly chop away. Or you could chop under water – the onions, not you!
  • On the 11th day of Christmas: You’ve neglected the garden and that zucchini plant is going berserk. Slice the biggest one in rounds, brush with oil and pop on the barbie.
  • On the 12th day of Christmas: The excess food bought before Christmas that has not even seen the light of day since going into the fridge: hmmmm. Good excuse for yet another party!
Media contacts: Rosemary Cadden on 0424 361 821; Jane Willcox on 0412 264 848.

RECIPE from Making a Meal of It

Ceviche – what a delicious no-cook way to use up some lemons, which are plentiful at the moment.

This dish is popular in Central and South America. In Panama, it’s eaten with crackers, in Mexico on toasted tortillas, in Peru they like it with corn on the cob, and Ecuador with potato chips.

Combine finely sliced onion, finely chopped chilli or a dash of Tabasco, a handful of chopped coriander and maybe a crushed clove of garlic. Add your choice of raw, fresh seafood cut into bite-sized pieces. Cover the lot with lemon juice (about 1 cup for 500 grams of fish) and leave in the fridge for 2 hours or more, stirring now and then. Ready when fish turns from transparent to opaque.

Serve as an entrée in lettuce leaves or avocado shells. If you have it: add tiny cubes of tomato, cucumber or avocado just before serving. Any other citrus juice will do the same marinating job.

Press images available on request.

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Making a Meal of It

What to do with that one sad carrot? Making a Meal of It is a guide to making the most of the food we feel guilty about throwing away.

Bursting with tips, ideas and recipes, this book tells you how to buy the best, keep it fresh, and make use of every bit - and, when you forget, how to restore and revive. The ideas are simple and flexible, from tasty solutions for last night's leftovers to easy recipes for a bulk buy or garden harvest.

Tuck in and make a meal of it. You'll save time and money, and a bit of the planet too.

Find out:
  • which everyday vegetable is healthier cooked than raw
  • what staple causes food poisoning in the home
  • why you shouldn't put a vase of flowers near the fruit bowl
  • why apes peel their bananas from the other end

Rosemary Cadden
P: 0424 361 821


using Christmas leftovers



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