Barbecues, dinners and parties can often equal over-catering, which can mean lots of food waste.
Of course we don't meant to - we just don't want to be caught short, so we end up buying more than we need.
But with food waste costing both our wallets - over $2000 a year! - and the planet - as one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters1 - it's worth taking a few simple steps to keep it to a minimum.
Here are our essential entertaining tips to help reduce the post-party food waste guilt.
Top tips to reduce BBQ food waste
- Get a head count. Catering for the right amount will save you money and mean you won’t have to deal with a fridge full of leftovers later.
- Write a menu, preferably on paper. It doesn’t need to be super detailed, if you have the nibblies, mains, sides and drinks covered, you won’t panic-buy extra food.
- Check the fridge first. Use what you’ve got and build your menu around that. Have some spuds that are starting to sprout? Potato salad it is!
- Shop with a list. Know what you need to buy and stick to it. Prevention is the best solution after all.
- Tell guests if they need to bring food. Tell them what and how much. If they don't need to bring anything, let them know. Maybe even mention you’re trying to avoid wasting food? People will appreciate the clarity and you won’t end up with five spare packets of supermarket snags.
- Make coleslaw. A BBQ favourite that can use up lots of spare veg. As well as carrot and cabbage, you can add apple, red onion or shallots, snow peas, capsicum or even peeled broccoli stems. Substitute half the mayo for yoghurt for a healthier dressing.
- Dips. You can make so many delicious homemade dips with produce you probably have on hand - like our spinach yoghurt dip. Others you can try are creamy guacamole, fresh salsa, baba ganoush and all kinds of pestos.
- Vegie dippers. Carrot, capsicum, celery and zucchini all make great crudités for dunking into hummus.
- Buy food that you can use for other meals. Worried you won’t have enough? Buy or make extra foods that you can serve quickly if needed, or keep for later. Zucchini slice or garlic bread can be made ahead and frozen if not eaten. Pretzels and crackers can be used for lunchbox snacks. Sausages and fresh prawns can be cooked quickly or frozen uncooked for a weeknight meal.
- Use a cooler bag. When you’re transporting food to a BBQ or picnic, keeping food under 5 degrees will dramatically increase its safety and lifespan.
- Cool them quickly. Despite the old wives' tale, all hot food should be refrigerated as soon as possible after the meal. Bacteria grows faster between 5-60 degrees Celcius so the sooner they're cool, the longer your leftovers will last. Follow our storage tips to get the most out of your leftovers.
- Send it home with guests. Bundle up leftovers into containers and let guests take what they want. Everyone knows barbecue food makes a great lunch the next day.
- Bread/bread rolls – A few stale rolls left? Blitz them in a food processor to make your own breadcrumbs. Or dice and freeze as croutons for salads or soups. Make a panzanella salad with crispy torn bread pieces or add dried fruit and milk to make bread and butter pudding. Or slap some ham and cheese between them and toast them for breakfast tomorrow.
- Too much meat or fish? They can be frozen when raw right up to their use by dates. Freeze in portion-sized bags for easy weeknight meals.
- Still have heaps of leftovers to use up? Check out our leftover recipes or tips to transform them into delicious lunches.
1 FAO 2015, Food wastage footprint: Impacts on natural resources - Summary report