10 ways to safely use your Christmas leftovers

by Dec 20, 2021Survival


What to do with all the Christmas leftovers.  It’s that time of year when you have the same problem as last year.   Well you don’t have to throw them all out.

  1. Freeze
  2. Repurpose
  3. Donate
  4. Party again
  5. Chickens
  6. Dog
  7. Cat
  8. Worm farm
  9. Compost
  10. Dig into the garden bed

If handled incorrectly you can be creating a feast of food poisoning for yourself, your friends, family and animals.


 Safety first

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is mainly hot.  You really need to pay attention to the food safety guidelines  to prevent everyone from coming down with food poisoning as bad bacteria love warm conditions.

 Don’t leave food out for too long, keep hot food hot and cold food cold to reduce the risk of food poisoning. 

If food has been out for more than a couple of hours best to throw it out. 

Don’t feed rotten food or spoiled food to animals as they can get food poisoning too. 

Keep food cold without electricity

There are a couple of situations where you may not have power at your Christmas party. 

  • Your having a picnic in the park or at the beach
  • There is a grid power failure from storm or heatwave

 In this case you can keep your food cold by-

  • Esky with ice
  • Car fridge
  •  House fridge plugged into a generator (don’t plug generator into house unless the switch board is designed for it.)





How to save having Christmas leftovers?

Don’t go overboard

I know Christmas is a time when you like putting on a feast but if only 3 people are coming and the cat you don’t need the ham, turkey and chicken for lunch.

 Plan on having healthier food options so you are able to give the left overs to your pets, chickens and the compost.

Know who is coming 

If you know that person always brings a plate of food then that is less you should be preparing.  Even if you have told them not to.

 If you want variety buy small quantities from the deli, go for a platter-style of lunch.

 Don’t put all your food out at one time, keep half of it in the fridge to prevent it spoiling.

 Then there’s the usual send food home with people when they leave.




Foods that are in the fridge at the end of the day can be proportioned up and frozen for meals during the week.  

If the food has been on the table for a few hours I wouldn’t freeze it as there is the risk of food poisoning.

Don’t freeze and heat food too many times as it can making it go off with bacteria growth.

 2. Repurpose

Todays’ leftover meat is tomorrow’s stew or toasted sandwiches with cheese and tomato for lunch.  Cut up the leftovers and make pizzas.



Emergency Kit


 3. Donate

If you have too much food for yourself, you can send it home with the people at the party.  Our people can use your Christmas leftovers.

  4. Party again

If some of the food has been left in the fridge or freezer you could plan another get together the next day with the same or different people.

5. Chickens

Chickens will eat most things but don’t give them –

  • Anything fatty
  • Anything salty
  • Anything sugary
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee, alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Salad dressing – rinse leftover salad through a sieve before giving it to chickens.
  • Fruit seeds – apple, cherry, stone fruits
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fatty or sugary dairy foods
  • Onions, garlic

 Stick to the basics of non-fatty meats and salads and vegetables.



6. Dog

Similar food list to the chickens but also including grapes and raisins.  Make sure there are NO COOKED BONES that can splinter and cut their digestive system.

 Keep it healthy they will want to eat everything.

7. Cat

Basically, stick to some cooked meat with limited fat.  Make sure there are NO COOKED BONES that can splinter and cut their digestive system.  Most foods are not suitable or they won’t eat anyway.

8. Worm farm

Worms will eat anything organic (peels, eggshells, fruit, vegetables, paper, cardboard) except for

  • Acid foods – citrus, vinegar foods, pineapple, lots of tomatoes (a little bit of tomato is ok)
  • Meats, fat and oils
  • Dairy products
  • Seeds and bones
  • Onions, garlic

 Rinse off any dressing, sauces or oils before putting leaf overs in your worm farm.

 9. Compost

Anything organic except for meats, fat, salt, sugar.  You can even throw in the paper plants and paper towel as long as it doesn’t have too many bad foods on it.

Again, rinse the salad to remove any vinegar, dressings, creams etc.   Meats can be processed in a Bokashi bucket before burying in the garden.

10. Dig into garden bed

If you don’t have chickens, worm farms or compost you can dig a hole or trench about a foot or deeper and bury your leftovers. 

Follow the same rules as feeding the compost. 

Don’t include any meat products as it will attract neighbouring cats, birds, flies and dogs.

Key points

We want Christmas to be a joyous time of year for all (animals included).

  • Don’t overdo the food quantity to reduce the amount of Christmas leftovers.
  • Don’t put out all the food at once to prevent large amounts of it spoiling
  • Only give healthy foods to your animals with no fat, salt, sugar, processed foods
  • Don’t bury meats in the garden and secure foods in the rubbish to prevent stray animals from spreading your trash.
  • If the food is still edible freeze it for your meals, give it to other party-goers or repurpose it.  Just follow the food safety guidelines to prevent anyone from getting sick.

 Hope you have an enjoyable Christmas.

Further reading

  1. Food safety guidelines



 2.  5 Keys to safer food manual – WHO





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