Waste Not Want Not: Christmas food tips and tricks

A host of our favourite foodie folk share their Christmas tips on reducing waste, saving yourself some time and hassle, and spicing up your festive leftovers

Feature by Peter Simpson | 01 Dec 2022
  • Christmas Drinks

Christmas dinner – it’s iconic, it’s impressive, it’s impossible to get totally right. OK, maybe not impossible, but it does require a fair bit of planning and it’s very easy for it to snowball into a load of waste and half-formed ideas about side dishes.

The good news is you’re reading this article so you’re already thinking about it, and even better news is that we’ve brought help. We asked around a host of bars, restaurants and distilleries to get their tips – grab your shopping list and get ready for the best sandwich of your life…

What would be your main piece of advice to someone making Christmas dinner for their pals or family?

Shaun Hegarty, head chef at Shucks: Don’t stress out! Make sure you’re cooking with a glass of wine in your hand. It’s supposed to be enjoyable, not hard work! Don’t overcommit and do what you’re comfortable with. Make a plan and recruit helpers where you can. A lot can actually be prepped the day before which really helps with the workload on the day. 

Colin Anderson, head chef at Brett: Be organised – do as much prep the night before and make the cooking on the day as chilled and fun as possible. By having all the vegetables prepped and puddings made it means less cleaning up on the day and more time to eat and play board games! 

Tomas Gormley, Joint Chef Patron of Heron: Do as much as you can in advance. Cook everything other than your main event beforehand so when it comes to the meal itself it's mostly reheating and serving. Use your microwave! A lot of people assume it's cheating but if you have put in the work earlier on then there's no problem being efficient with your cooking tools!

What restaurant tips and tricks can we use at home to cut down on waste?

CA: It’s hard to keep to – but try shopping for less but more often and plan your meals ahead. You can still cook daily or do actual meal prep but having a plan of attack makes the world of difference. Also, make soups for lunch with any vegetables etc left from recipes. 

SH: Shop as locally as possible and get as much as you can from your local greengrocers and veg shop. Buy just what you need, instead of large packets from the supermarket. This also cuts down on plastic waste as well as food waste, and supports the local economy.

TG: Make more of less things! If you're worried about not having enough food for everyone, instead of having a large selection of sides with your dinner just pick your favourite two or three. This will be easier to store away in the fridge afterwards and you're less likely to throw stuff out because you don't have the space.

What’s your go-to recipe for Christmas leftovers?

TG: Sandwiches are my go-to, not just for Christmas but for everything. There's not much that isn't improved the next day by being placed between two slices of bread.

SH: Deep-fried sprouts with kimchi, dirty Christmas sandwiches with leftover roast meat you have, or a fried hash with all the trimmings is great for a Boxing Day brunch.

CA: Always a fry up! Stuffing fried like it's white pudding, you’ve got wee amazing sausages already wrapped in bacon, bread for French toast, fry the sprouts and chestnuts too – and trust me the bread and cranberry sauces make a far better accompaniment than ketchup! Alternatively, make turkey bahn mi with hot sauce, stuffing, coriander and lime juice! Delicious.

Scroll on for advice on making the most of your festive drinks cabinet...