Christmas is often a time of overindulgence, and this festive spirit can lead us to prepare way too much food. But is that necessarily a bad thing?
Jordan Hanley, Butchery Supervisor at online butchers, Campbells Meat, argues that when carefully thought out and done properly, leftovers can serve as an extension of your festive feast.
He explained: “Using up Christmas leftovers is a practical way to minimise food waste and maximise the value of your festive feast. By repurposing your leftovers, you not only save money but also contribute to a more sustainable approach in the kitchen.”
To help reduce waste, Jordan has offered advice on properly storing and reusing leftovers, as well as providing his top tips.
Leftover turkey and other meat
Whether you had turkey or another meat for Christmas, ensure it’s completely cooled before freezing. Within 2–3 hours of cooking, it should reach room temperature to thwart any unwanted bacteria.
Consider how you’ll use the meat later before freezing. Jordan recommends: “Diced or shredded meats work wonders in soups, and slices are perfect for round two roasts. Keep it simple, freeze smart, and enjoy a taste of Christmas whenever you fancy.”
To help it cool quicker, slice your meats into portions, and once they’re cool, store them in individual airtight containers to prevent cross-contamination.
Use freezer bags or containers, and place them in the fridge for four hours before the big freeze. This allows the meats to undergo gradual cooling, reducing the risk of ice crystals forming, ensuring better texture, and preserving the overall quality.
Note: Never refreeze meat or any other food more than once, as this could lead to food poisoning.
Jordan’s top tips for freezing meat
- Cut meat into smaller portion sizes to help maintain quality when freezing.
- Wrap well to dodge freezer burn.
- Label each with the food type and freezing date to avoid confusion.
- For meats, use freezer-safe plastic wrap before placing them in a resealable plastic bag.
Leftover gravy: the liquid gold
“Christmas dinner without gravy would be like a snowman without a carrot nose. Don’t let it go to waste; freeze it!” says Jordan. “Use a freezer-safe container or bag for the best results.”
- Low-fat gravy rule. Minimise fat, milk, or cream in your gravy; they tend to play hard to get during thawing. To do this, run gravy through a food processor to reduce separation. Alternatively, use a whisk to vigorously stir the gravy before freezing, breaking down any fat particles.
- Thaw and reheat. Plan ahead. Thaw frozen gravy in the fridge overnight. Reheat it gradually in a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. If it starts to split, a touch of water or stock and some vigorous whisking will smooth things out.
Master these methods, and you’ll have the secret to the perfect leftover gravy every time.