By Monique Heller
An intimate dinner party at home - sounds like a cosy way to connect and catch up with loved ones. But dinner parties have also become synonymous with excess - too much food, drink and plastic going to waste. Here are a few simple ways to waste less at your next dinner party, and have fun doing so!
Say yes to offers - on one condition
If your friends offer to bring something, say yes enthusiastically on the proviso that they bring something they already have - no buying allowed! You might end up with fresh herbs from their garden, odds and ends of cheeses and dips to create a grazing platter, or half-drunk perfectly good bottles of wine. Craft your meal around these offers - it’ll force you to get creative and reduce any burden on your guests.
Do a stocktake before you plan your menu
This includes a fridge, freezer and pantry stocktake - challenge yourself to use up odds and ends that you have, buying as little new food as possible. Dishes like minestrone are great for clearing out leftover veg and dried goods, as are simple pasta dishes that you can use as a canvas to add what you’ve got on hand.
Love your leftovers
If you’re left with lots of leftovers, take a few minutes to think about what to do with them, instead of letting them fester in the back of the fridge until it’s too late. If you can’t freeze leftovers, say a salad, send some home with your guests. Keep leftover wine for cooking (who has leftover wine?), and turn veggie scraps into a homemade stock if you don’t compost.
Resist the disposable temptation
It’s very tempting to go down the disposable route, avoiding the hassle of washing up - I’m not going to lie, the sustainable option of using real crockery will take more time but I do think it’s worth it. If you’ve got a dishwasher, there’s really no excuse and if you don’t, there’s generally one keen friend happy to help with the dishes. If you don’t have a crockery set big enough for a dinner party, head down to your local op shop - you’ll be surprised by the quality you might find there. Also, if you don’t have a full matching set, mismatched is kind of on-trend, right? Most guests won’t mind using the same plates and cutlery for starters and mains to help lighten the load.
About the author:
Monique Heller is a dietitian and nutrition communicator with an enthusiasm for finding scrappy ways to reduce her footprint through food. When she’s not experimenting in the kitchen, she’s probably talking, writing or thinking about food.