Christmas is a smashing time of the year. It’s also a really expensive one. There’s the national imperative to have enough mince pies in house to feed a flock of unannounced second cousins alongside an unnerving scenario of supermarkets closing for days at a time. The combination means that we err on the side of caution and buy more than we really need. 3 in 4 Britons struggle to eat all of the food they buy for the festive season, and across the UK 2 million turkeys and 74 million mince pies are binned each winter.

The good news is that there are things we can do to freeze our food bills, and make this year of rising food prices compatible with the Christmas spirit of convivial eating. Here's your Christmas food guide:

Pre Christmas

1) Do a festive freeze, it could save you £250 a year

It might be the last thing you would think to do in the pre-Christmas rush, but you’ll kick yourself that you never thawed of this once you have. Clean out your freezer before you get your Christmas plans in order. Make space, incorporate long lost icy items into your mid-December meal plan and create room for Christmas leftovers and bulk bought mince pies. Other freezable items commonly over-bought at Christmas include: milk, bread, cranberries and cakes. Oh, and a freezer is not just for Christmas. According to research from Sheffield Hallam, increased freezer use can cut food waste by half, saving an average family £250 per year.

2) Meal plan and build in a few 'blanks' for impromptu eating out

Whatever the time of year, making a meal plan while taking stock of your store cupboards is the best way to run a tight ship in the kitchen. Christmas should be no different. If you need emergency supplies for guests dropping in, think about what’s not going to perish too quickly. Also build a couple of ‘blanks’ into the plan in case you end up eating out impromptu amidst the festivities.

3) Fix a quick gift

No, lie, you can make a glistening gift from a leftover cabbage in minutes, all you’ll need is a few spices, some salt, and an empty jar. Sauerkraut is on trend my friend. If fermenting’s not your thing, why not pickle? If you’ve got a few hours and some leftover fruit, think about jams or chutneys. Your veg rack is your oyster! 

Amidst the festivities

NB: Don’t spoil Rudolf, maybe you want to leave him one less carrot this year, or make sure that someone claims the last mince pie that Santa was too darn full to eat (again) for their Christmas morning breakfast.

4) Fight turkey fatigue

Turkey fatigue is a very real issue. Firstly, turkey releases a natural sedative, the amino acid tryptophan which will make you sleepy after your meal regardless of whether you’ve been on the Christmas tipple. Secondly, and more importantly, we get so tired of turkey in the week between Christmas and New Year that many despair of the bird and consign leftovers to the bin.

There’s not much that we can do to combat the chemistry of tryptophan (try goose?) but we can fight turkey fatigue by turning back to our trusty freezers, or sneaking it into one of these festive recipes. You can freeze any number of Christmas leftovers and transform them anew later in the new year. Easter time tiffin or cranberry summer pudding anyone? Stick a label on it, as 55% of people forget what they’ve frozen. 

After Xmas

5) Visit your neighbour

We carried out a spot of polling earlier this year and 81% of people told us that they'd be happy to receive food from a neighbour. Use surplus food to build bridges. Alternately check out OLIO, an app that allows you to pick up food from anyone in your area.

And if you’re avoiding Christmas altogether

6) Avoid Christmas, the right way

Not everyone wants to be in England for Xmas, we get that. If you are heading off, give a though to what’s in your fridge once you’ve found your passport. Over £½ billion worth of perfectly edible food is thrown away in the UK each year when people head off on holiday. Two-fifths of people surveyed on the issue were unsure of what they could freeze and how long it is safe to keep something frozen. 45% of people said they threw food away because it couldn’t be frozen, but many weren’t actually aware which foods can be frozen – 58% didn’t realise you can freeze milk, 62% ham and 63% hard cheese. You can find out more about freezing here. For anything that you can’t freeze, revert to point 5 and pay your neighbour a seasonal visit.

Got your own tips? Share them below and we'll add them to our next tip round-up.

Oh, and here's a little Christmas ditty from our newest team member to  keep food waste fresh in your mind. Here's hoping it's not all you think of! Season's Greetings.

Twas the Night After Christmas Dinner by Jack Hodgkiss

Twas the night after Christmas, and the family was fed,

They’d all eaten too much and had gone up to bed,

The food that was left was left out on the side,

The food that they’d cooked, and had eaten with pride,

They’d left out the turkey, almost half was still there,

There were carrots and parsnips - did nobody care? 

The food-waste fairy was upset by this sight,

Because she hated food waste on Christmas night,

So down in the kitchen she made such a clatter,

The whole family went down to see what was the matter,

“What’s the matter?!” she cried, “have you seen all this food?!”

“Why do you treat leftovers with such a bad attitude?”

“Gather round all, for some tips I shall tell,

Some food waste tips to ensure that your Christmas goes well”

The family looked guilty, but they huddled round close,

To learn how to save what was left of their roast.

The fairy looked round and assessed what was left,

Then she opened her mouth and she took a deep breath…

“Make room in your freezer leading up to this date

As most things can be frozen and will still taste great”

“The meat you have cooked should be frozen and stored.

Just don’t refreeze cooked meat if it has already been thawed.

The vegetables - yes all - can be frozen fine too,

Or you can boil it all up in a nice winter stew”

“Once this is all frozen, it will last a long while,

So for the rest of the season you can taste Christmas and smile”

The family looked shocked, “You can freeze all of those?!”

“Yes, Like I said, most things can be froze!”

“If you don’t want to freeze it,  just put some in the fridge!

In a plastic container with an airtight lid.

This will keep your food fresh for a good few days

For you to reuse and enjoy in a vast number of ways…”

“In the future just make a food shopping list...

To ensure you only buy what you need and you have nothing missed!

Now you know how, get storing… I won’t do it myself, 

I’m a food-waste fairy, not a food-waste elf.” 

The family then rose and began storing their food

As the fairy’s Christmas spirit was slowly renewed. 

And with glee she sang out, as she flew out of sight, 

“Happy Christmas to all for there’s no food waste tonight!”