Cookbook author Kim McCosker.
Cookbook author Kim McCosker. Mary Bolling

How to handle a fridge full of Christmas Day leftovers

BOXING Day is officially National Leftovers Day - and plenty of Aussies are waking up with a fridge full of day-old Christmas cheer, and few ideas of how to use it.

The increase in eating - and spending - can mean Christmas is a wasteful time of the year, with the amount we throw out expected to soar during the holiday period.

Gladstone Regional Council mayor Gail Sellers said local waste stations were expecting 320 tonnes of waste to go into the landfill and 100 tonnes of material to be recycled during the week of Christmas.

"A slight increase is noted in waste and recycle bins, residents are urged to manage their recyclables particularly paper and cardboard which can take up significant room in a bin," she said.

"With Christmas lunches, an increase is noted in organic waste associated with food preparation."

4 Ingredients author Kim McCosker said that a great way of reducing leftovers and waste was to menu plan.

According to Kim, a menu plan can reduce up to a third of your grocery bill.

"Without a plan you will waste food and money and it alleviates stress when you have a plan," she explains.

"We spend more than we can afford. If I can help people save money and time in the kitchen then that's fabulous."

For those leftovers you're not quite sure what to do with, Kim says that there are a million ways to reuse them.

"You can melt down your Christmas chocolates and crush candy canes into them to make an after dinner mint slice or you can put your Christmas ham into quiches, frittatas or pies."

Be careful with the preparation, handling and storage of food during these sweltering summer days because it can lead to food poisoning.

It's an illness affecting two million Aussies each year and costs up to $2 billion.

The council warns bacteria which causes food poisoning doesn't always make food smell, taste or look bad.

To prevent food poisoning avoid cross contamination, heat food quickly to over 60°C to kill bacteria and don't store food at room temperature for longer than four hours.

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