How to make a zero-waste Christmas dinner

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could prepare a more sustainable Christmas dinner with no waste, where everything you bought is used up? Well, now you can! Learn how to make a more eco-friendly festive feast for six with our step-by-step guide, including shopping list, recipes and time plan. On the menu? Roast goose, braised red cabbage, goose fat roast potatoes, sprout gratin and a gravy made from the trimmings.

The main event at Christmas – the dinner, of course – has excess at its heart, which is tricky when you’re trying to cut waste and eat in a more eco-conscious way. Sustainability champion Emily Gussin, part of the delicious. food team, brings you the solution: the closed loop Christmas dinner!


How to make a zero-waste Christmas dinner

With a full shopping list, timings for cooking everything and individual recipes, this is the all-in-one feast that will please both traditionalists and people keen to try something different. And nothing ends up in the bin. There’s just enough leftovers for a round of Boxing Day sandwiches, too….

Shopping list

  • 5kg free-range goose, with giblets
  • 400g free-range pork sausagemeat
  • 2kg maris piper or king edward potatoes
  • 400g carrots
  • 400g parsnips
  • 500g brussels sprouts
  • 1 medium (about 750g) red cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 red onions
  • 400g shallots
  • 2 garlic bulbs
  • 1 orange
  • Bunch (20g) thyme
  • 6 rosemary sprigs
  • Small bunch (20g) tarragon
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • Fine salt and salt flakes
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, plus 16 more
  • 5 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 cloves
  • 750ml (1 bottle) dry white wine
  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 50g tin anchovy fillets in olive oil
  • 390g jar pickled walnuts (contains 170g walnuts)
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 400g white loaf
  • 568ml (1 pint) whole milk
  • 300ml double cream

The menu

We recommend printing the individual recipes, to make it easy to refer to each while you’re cooking, and having this guide to hand throughout.

Roast goose

The star of the show. Don’t forget to save the goose’s wings, giblets and liver to use elsewhere in other elements of the zero-waste dinner. And goose fat straight from the bird makes for the best roast potatoes…

Roast goose on a platter

Bread sauce

A classic creamy bread sauce with warming spices. Reserve the onion trimmings for the goose gravy.

Bowl of bread sauce

Orange and honey-roast carrots and parsnips

Carrots and parsnips bring colour and sweetness to the Christmas table. Save the tops, tails and peelings – you’ll need them for the gravy and stuffing.

Roasted parsnips and carrots

Goose fat roast potatoes

Crisp and golden spuds, roasted in the rendered fat from the goose. They get a flavour boost thanks to their whizzed skins being re-added at the end as a sort of sprinkled potato seasoning,

A bowl of roast potatoes

Sprout and anchovy gratin with porcini crumb

A deeply satisfying side dish to convert even the biggest brussels sprout sceptics – and it can be prepped in advance. Reserve the veg trimmings and soaking water from the dried porcini mushrooms for the gravy.

Brussels sprouts gratin

Braised red cabbage with pickled walnuts and tarragon

Festive red cabbage with plenty of sweetness and acidity. This one can be made ahead too. Save the cabbage core, herb stalks and onion trimmings for the gravy (we told you nothing goes to waste).

A bowl of braised red cabbage

Goose liver and sausagemeat stuffing

A hearty, meaty stuffing which makes use of the peelings from the carrots and parsnips and has a little zing from pickled walnuts to cut through the richness.

Slices of sausagemeat stuffing

Goose gravy

When there’s a goose in the mix, it’s easy to make a great gravy. All the trimmings and odds and ends are used to make stock, which the post-roasting juices are added to, along with some extra flavourings. The result is a glossy, umami-rich sauce that will have everyone reaching for the gravy boat.

The time plan

Part 1: Christmas Eve

Work your way through this list at any time you like on Christmas Eve, but do it in this order. Together it will take roughly 5 hours for one person, but enlist some help and it’ll be speedier.

  • Prepare the goose (steps 1-4)
  • Do step 1 of the gravy recipe, rendering the goose fat and roasting the wings, neck and giblets
  • Make the bread sauce, then chill
  • Prepare the vegetables and potatoes so you can use the ‘waste’ in the other dishes (step 1 of the carrots & parsnips, potatoes and cabbage)
  • Make the stock for your gravy (gravy step 2)
  • Braise the cabbage (steps 2-3)
  • Make the stuffing (steps 1-2)
  • Prepare the gratin (steps 1-6)

Part 2: Christmas Day

As you’ve done lots of prep the day before, Christmas Day is far less intense – leaving you more time with your family. Start at 9am to get dinner on the table by 2pm.


  • Start with step 5 of the goose recipe, so the goose legs go in the oven at about 9:20am, then continue with step 6
  • Go and open some presents, or have a spot of breakfast – you have time here!


  • Follow step 7 of the goose recipe so the crown goes in the oven at 11:40am


  • Increase the oven temperature, following step 8 of the goose recipe


  • Boil the potatoes (step 2)


  • Remove the goose from the oven and set aside to rest (step 9)
  • Put the stuffing in the oven (step 3)
  • Put the tray for the potatoes in to heat up as well (step 3), then add the potatoes at 12:55pm


  • Take the gratin out of the fridge to come to room temperature
  • Make the gravy using the goose tin and stock (step 3)


  • Put the carrots and parsnips in to roast (step 2)


  • Take the stuffing out of the oven to keep warm and replace with the gratin (step 8)
  • Put the cabbage on to warm through (step 4)


  • Ask someone to carve the bird and begin taking things to the table
  • Reheat the bread sauce


  • Remove the gratin from the oven
  • Add the zest and glaze to the carrots and parsnips (step 3) and the peels to the potatoes (step 4)


  • Serve everything up and dig in!

A Christmas dinner for six

Need more eco-friendly festive inspiration? Check out our sustainable recipes hub and Christmas leftovers recipes.

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