Even as hungry families are being turned away from City Missions this Christmas, others are cramming fridges and pantries with festive fare destined for the trash.
RNZ reports about half of Kiwi shoppers are only this week doing their pre-Christmas “big shop”, stocking up on packets of chips, dips, drink mixers, produce and meat.
Jenny Marshall, the project manager for lobby group Love Food Hate Waste, told the national broadcaster that people needed to be especially conscious about what they were buying this time of year.
“We know in the UK that about 10 percent of every meal over Christmas time is thrown away and also that we buy enough food just for Christmas day that could probably feed our family normally for two or three days.”
She said the problem with food waste was worse than people thought.
“When we throw away food, it goes to a landfill and it creates a gas called methane. If food waste was a country, it would be the third in the world for producing climate change gases.
“That’s how much food we’re throwing away.”
On their website, Love Food Hate Waste suggests clearing out the pantry and fridge in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas by making meals from leftover and half-open packets of pasta.
It suggests keeping the Christmas feast simple, and if people insist on multiple types of meats, serving them across Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Shopping lists are also key to reducing food waste. The group suggests adding containers to store leftovers, and also ingredients that might help you make the most of them, to the list.
Proper storage helps food last, ensuring it has a better chance of being eat before it goes bad and needs to be thrown out.
On Christmas Day, LFHW suggests serving food at different times so people don’t become wary of food that has been sitting around for a few hours and refuse to eat it.
On that note, it suggests putting food in the fridge as soon as possible, putting leftovers into containers for guests to take home, and eating leftovers over the following days. Pizza bases and wraps were a good way to use them up.