Why you should #GiveACluck about your leftover chicken

Did you know the UK throws away 86 million chickens every year? To kick off 2018, Love Food Hate Waste are running a new campaign to encourage people to #GiveACluck about poultry waste by storing chicken correctly and using up leftover chicken.

I’ve teamed up with Love Food Hate Waste to support the #GiveACluck campaign by sharing my top tips for storing chicken in the fridge and freezer, defrosting chicken and making the most of leftover chicken.

'86 million chickens are thrown away each year' - a stat that should encourage us to use up leftover chicken

How to freeze chicken safely

  • You can freeze chicken right up until its use-by date, so if you’re like me and you plan your meals ahead but then end up eating out instead, your chicken doesn’t have to go to waste – just keep an eye on those use-by dates and make sure you freeze your chicken if you’re not going to get round to using it in time. 
  • Regardless of whether its cooked or raw, chicken can be frozen for up to a year, so if you were to freeze leftovers from your favourite meal in February, you could enjoy it in December, just as fresh!  I’m a big fan of batch cooking, and I love to cook a big chicken casserole and then freeze a few containers, so I’ve got a tasty, nutritional meal to eat even if I don’t feel like cooking. Just make sure you defrost your chicken safely, and heat it until its piping hot before eating it.
  • NEVER refreeze raw chicken after it’s been frozen and defrosted – always make sure you cook it before putting it back into the freezer!'Cook leftovers to piping hot' (with an image of a chicken in a microwave) - a tip to avoid wasting leftover chicken.

How to defrost chicken safely

  • Many people get confused about how to defrost chicken safely, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Just take it out of the freezer 24 hours before you want to use it and let it defrost on a plate or bowl overnight in the fridge, in its original packaging or in an air-tight container.
  • Plan your meals in advance so you always know what you’ll be eating the following day and you can defrost the chicken the night before, so it’s ready to cook for dinner.
  • Buy a big pack of chicken thighs or fillets and freeze it in portions using freezer bags, so you can defrost however much you need, whenever you want to cook it. To keep track of how old the chicken is, use a permanent marker to label it with the date it went into the freezer, and rotate it so that the chicken that needs to be eaten first is always at the front or on top.

How to use up leftover chicken

  • There are lots of great ways to use up your chicken leftovers. I love to make a sandwich on fresh, crusty bread with a dollop of mayo for lunch the next day, or add it to a curry, risotto, pie, salad or stir-fry for dinner. If I’m feeling particularly adventurous in the kitchen, I’ll make a pizza from scratch and top it with chicken, mozzarella, basil and tomato – I call it my chicken caprese pizza!

  • To ensure you’re using up all of the leftover chicken from your Sunday roast dinner, boil up the carcass and skin with some veg and herbs to make a hearty chicken stock that can be frozen in ice cube trays for use in soups, sauces and stews at a later date.Pledge: This year I will not throw away any poultry (a tip to encourage people to use up leftover chicken)

If you care about reducing poultry waste, Love Food Hate Waste would love you to share your top tips for storing chicken and your favourite recipes for using up your leftover chicken, using the #GiveACluck hashtag. You can also leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

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This is a collaborative post.

22 Comments

  1. January 30, 2018 / 2:06 pm

    I try not to waste food, i only cook as much as i can eat. I really don’t know why people cook loads of food when all it does is go to waste

    • January 31, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      I am terrible for cooking too much food, but I always make a point of freezing it into containers so that I have lots of ready made meals in the freezer.

  2. January 30, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    Food waste is a HUGE bugbear of mine, especially when it come at the cost of a life (I’m veggie). When I worked in a sustainability charity, a lot of people shared that they were frightened of getting salmonella from chicken, which was why they would throw it away. That included well cooked leftovers too. I really hope that this new campaign can help prevent food waste and also educate in the best ways to use it. Thanks for sharing such an important cause.

    • January 31, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      I used to be the same with chicken. I would get paranoid that it didn’t smell right when I’d defrosted it and I’d throw it out, but it was probably actually fine to use.

  3. January 30, 2018 / 2:39 pm

    This is very good to know I hate wasting food too and have been making smaller potions so there isn’t much wasted food.

    • January 31, 2018 / 7:34 pm

      That’s a great tip. I am making smaller portions to lose weight, as well.

  4. January 31, 2018 / 2:20 pm

    I’m going to have to do this, freeze my chicken sounds great. Have to admit that my family would chuck out leftover chicken, but we can always freeze it, have it in a sandwich abd so so much more, thanks for that insight 🙏🏼

    • January 31, 2018 / 7:33 pm

      Oh gosh, you really shouldn’t throw it! Always try to make the most of it. You can even use the chicken carcass to make stock, which you can freeze to use in future meals.

  5. January 31, 2018 / 6:34 pm

    I hate food waste of any kind, but especially any food an animal (poultry, mammal, fish, whatever) gave its life for. I *never* waste meat of any kind.

    • January 31, 2018 / 7:33 pm

      Good for you Jean. I agree, meat and poultry waste is the worst kind of food waste.

  6. February 1, 2018 / 12:47 pm

    I’m guilty of wasting food in the past and I now I do everything that I can to not waste it. I freeze chicken breasts individually and I use leftovers for my lunch the next day xxx

    • February 1, 2018 / 7:04 pm

      I always freeze chicken breasts individually too – as I live alone, it really helps me to ensure I’m not wasting any chicken.

  7. February 1, 2018 / 9:03 pm

    Totally agree with all the points you’ve made in this post, Kacie. I always freeze chicken breasts individually so I can just defrost what I need. Otherwise you can guarantee I’ll say I’m doing chicken the next day and Stacey will announce that she’s going to a friends for tea and some will end up going to waste!

    Louise x

    • February 2, 2018 / 3:08 pm

      That’s one of my favourite tips! It works out really well for me because I live on my own.

  8. February 4, 2018 / 12:24 am

    I dont like the thought of throwing food away at all. I never over cook. I have lived in many parts of Africa and this in ingrained in my head.

    • February 4, 2018 / 12:27 am

      That’s good to head. Sadly, the UK has quite a big culture of food waste and so I hope this campaign will help to encourage people to use their left over chicken.

  9. February 5, 2018 / 12:48 pm

    I cannot believe so much food is throw away each day, never mind each year! I try to never overcook – which I only fail when we cook pasta! But then the leftovers will do lunches for a few days.

    • February 5, 2018 / 2:00 pm

      I find spaghetti and rice are really hard to estimate weights for, so I always weigh it. Leftover pasta is always handy though 🙂

  10. February 6, 2018 / 3:36 pm

    I’m always so worried about reheating leftovers – I usually eat them cold!

    • February 6, 2018 / 4:29 pm

      It depends what it is for me. I try not to reheat rice, but I’ve done it in the past and been fine. The key is making sure the food is piping hot before serving it.

  11. goodfoodrunning
    February 9, 2018 / 2:09 am

    This is a really good cause – well done for publicising it, Kacie!

    The figures are staggering – and saddening. Especially when you consider how much hunger we see all around us – and how many chickens’ lives were wasted in vain…

    • February 9, 2018 / 3:23 pm

      Thank you Jason, I’m glad you liked the post. I was really shocked to hear quite how much chicken goes to waste every year. It’s really sad.

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