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Freezing food can lead to a less wasteful Christmas

Food, glorious food... despite all the best of intentions you know your dining tables will be groaning under the weight of delicious Christmas fare this yuletide.

And if you haven't got a dog to chomp down the leftovers, some will probably go in the bin. Pantry shelves will groan under the weight of well-intentioned goodies which will not get eaten and also end up in the bin. That's as good as cash in the trash.

In the UK we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, most of which could have been eaten. Wasting food costs the average household £470 a year and Christmas is a particularly wasteful period.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

You can plan your festive cooking and work out what to cook, freeze and defrost in order to have a less stressful and wasteful Christmas.

The most common reason given for putting food in the bin is that it is past its "use by" date. Up to 30 per cent admitted to throwing food away as they had bought too much and didn't eat it.

Myths included a belief that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe; 38 per cent incorrectly said it is dangerous to refreeze meat after it has been cooked; and 36 per cent wrongly believed that food can become unsafe to eat while in the freezer.

In fact he freezer is like a pause button, so you can freeze foods right up to the "use by" date. If you are up to that date and have no prospect of eating the food just put it in the freezer and suspend time.

While food is kept safe in the freezer, it's the quality that deteriorates over time, so the Food Standards Agency recommends eating it within three to six months and checking for any freezing instructions on the packaging. Once defrosted, the pause button is off, so defrost food as and when you need it and eat it within 24 hours of it being fully defrosted.

Turkey and other cooked meats should be cooled down quickly, covered and put in the fridge or freezer within one to two hours. Leftovers should be eaten or frozen within two days (one day for rice dishes).

And don't forget that you can make new meals out of the leftovers and freeze them, too - even if the turkey was originally frozen.

Frozen leftovers should be defrosted thoroughly - either in the fridge overnight or on the defrost setting in the microwave - before being reheated and eaten straight away. Don't reheat it more than once, though - if you don't eat it this time it'll have to go in the bin.

For more information on how to reduce waste and freeze food safely this Christmas, visit or follow @foodgov #FreezerFairy on Twitter for tips and advice throughout the festive period.