| by Dan Black
From plastic packaging to leftover food, dinner parties can result in a lot of waste. Here, Katie Georgeson, from premium kitchen appliance manufacturer Stoves, gives us her top tips for hosting a zero-waste get together.
A recent survey we conducted showed that staying in is the new going out, and the average household throws at least one dinner party per month (Stoves). With more of us choosing to stay in and cook, hosting a dinner party is the perfect opportunity to show off your impressive culinary skills. But, after the food, drink and good times, you’re left with the tidying up, and it can be surprising just how much waste builds up from packaging and leftovers.
Most dinner parties are built around the menu, so try to source your ingredients from places that will allow you to avoid plastic packaging. Visiting a greengrocer or market will allow you to buy loose fruits and vegetables, but you can also buy plastic-free produce in your usual supermarket. Your local butcher or fishmonger will let you take your own boxes to carry fresh meat and fish.
Not only does this mean you can avoid the abundance of plastic packaging that you’ll usually find in the supermarket, but you can also buy the exact amounts of each ingredient that you need for your recipes. This can help to reduce the amount of food waste you’ll have at the end of your meal.
Instead of buying bottled water, consider using a refillable glass bottle instead. Black and Blum’s charcoal water filter carafe will look great sitting on your table, and the active charcoal filter will give you fresh clean water for up to six months. For alcoholic drinks, some beer and wine shops will even allow you to bring your own bottles to be refilled.
When it comes to decorating your table, you’ll want to avoid single-use decorations and opt for more sustainable options instead. Take inspiration from trendy restaurants by recycling old cans, jars and glass bottles to use as candle and tealight holders for a stylish yet waste-free option.
Instead of buying fresh bouquets of flowers, which usually come wrapped in cellophane and plastic, see what you can make with foliage from around the garden. You could even take any spare fruits and vegetables that you have and arrange them into a fresh and natural centrepiece. Then, when you’re done, you can cook them up into another tasty meal for the family.
At the end of your no-waste dinner party, don’t be discouraged if you find yourself clearing away any leftovers. Just collect them up into plastic or stainless steel lunch boxes and storage boxes for your guests to take home with them, or to eat later. If you get ones that come with their own lids, you can avoid using cling film. Some even come with their own reusable cutlery, so you can avoid plastic waste long after your dinner party has ended!
Your leftover food can also be turned into brand new meals. Why not transform vegetables and meat into pies, pasta sauces, soups, stews or socks? Or, try using your leftover meat and rice to create a tasty burrito. Any spare fruit from your desserts can be baked into cakes, blended into smoothies or cooked into jams.
If you’ve got any bread going to waste, half it, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Then, toast the bread and top it with a sweet mixture of tomatoes and basil for an authentic Italian bruschetta.
By following the tips in this guide, you can host a fabulous dinner party without the waste. Just avoid plastic packaging wherever you can to do your bit towards saving the planet, and limit how many leftovers you throw away.