In December alone Scots are expected to throw away over 3.5 million mince pies, more than 240,000 Christmas puddings, and the equivalent of over 100,000 turkeys.
Using these items up – or not over-buying them in the first place – represents a potential saving of over £3 million.
Collectively, people living in Scotland could save more than £90 million by not wasting food this festive season. That’s a saving of £38 for every household in Scotland.
With 50,375 tonnes of food and drink expected to be binned in December, Scots are being encouraged to shop smart and save money simply by avoiding food waste.
According to figures from Zero Waste Scotland the equivalent of over 700,000 wheelie bins full of food is expected to be thrown away this month.
Action to tackle household food waste has already seen the amount generated drop by 6 per cent (between 2009 and 2014), resulting in a saving to household budgets of £92 million.
Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, said: “At Christmas it can be tempting to buy – and therefore waste – more food. But with a little preparation people can save money and be kinder to the environment. In Scotland we are working towards a 33 per cent reduction in food waste by 2025. That’s the most ambitious target in Europe, and everyone in Scotland has an important part to play in helping the country achieve that goal.”
Ylva Haglund, food waste campaigns manager at Zero Waste Scotland, added: “With all the food most of us buy in the run up to Christmas, this can be a difficult time of year to avoid throwing food out. But taking a little bit of time to check your fridge and cupboards and make use of what you already have can save you a lot of money.
“The average household could save £460 a year by putting food to better use – simply by thinking ahead when shopping for meals, freezing extra portions and following recipes to use up any ingredients instead of just buying more.
Top tips for cutting down food and drink waste this Christmas and save money:
· Keep your festive leftovers aside to make some quick and easy recipes – great for a head start on Boxing Day dinner.
· To use up any uneaten Christmas meal staples, curries, stews and soups are tasty and hassle-free to make. And who doesn’t love a classic turkey sandwich with leftover cranberry sauce? Easy recipes using leftovers can be found here.
· To use up your Christmas pudding, create a really easy and delicious dessert of Christmas pudding ice cream. Just mix custard and whipped cream together then stir in the crumbled Christmas pudding, perhaps adding a little leftover rum, whisky or Baileys, and then freeze.
· Believe it or not, mince pies work really well as a base for another cake. Add in chocolate, orange or nuts, or use in trifle.
Freezing and storing
· Freezing the food you have left from your Christmas feast could save you cash. Freeze as soon as you can – within two days – and eat within three months if possible.
· You can freeze just about anything. Cream (whip it a little beforehand) and cheeses like Stilton freeze really well, just put them in an airtight bag or container and store in the freezer.
· If you have leftover salad or lettuce leaves put a piece of kitchen roll in the bottom of a pot, add the leaves and then seal. This will keep them fresh for much longer than leaving them in the bag.
New Year’s resolutions – how to cut down on food waste next year
· Only attempt a big food shop if you’ve prepared a shopping list to avoid buying food you won’t use.
· Remember to check your cupboards first before you go shopping, as you may already have a lot of the ingredients you need.
· By washing, chopping, bagging and freezing your veg in advance you can save a lot of time, and they will retain the same nutritional value as if you prepared them from fresh.
Anyone wishing to find out more about food waste, including easy and tasty recipes, should visit the Love Food Hate Waste website at http://scotland.lovefoodhatewaste.com. Zero Waste Scotland is also encouraging Scots to share their own festive recipes on Twitter and Facebook.