Food Waste

How to reduce food waste at home

Did you know, avoidable food and drink waste costs Scottish households nearly £1.1billion in unnecessary purchases each year? 

By shopping smarter and by reducing how much food you waste, you could be saving up to £437 each year!

As well as saving money, you will also be reducing the amount of food waste generated in the first place – leading to a more sustainable lifestyle and a cleaner, greener Scotland.

Reducing food waste at every step 

To see a summary of how to reduce food waste at every step, click on the headings below:

Before you shop

  • Make a shopping list, take it to the shops, and stick to it! This will help you to avoid impulse buys and overstocking your kitchen with items likely to go to waste.
  • Check what you already have which needs to be used up before you go!
  • Write a meal plan for the week so you only buy what you need – looking ahead can help you to save you time and money.

At the shops

  • Choose use by dates which are further away for items you won’t be using straight away.
  • Shopping smarter means cutting down on food waste and saving money! A simple trick to use is not to go food shopping when you’re hungry – or you might buy more than you really need. 
  • Think about planning meals so that you can freeze leftovers for another time. 

Storing your food

  • Most foods stay fresh for longer if chilled, and if you’re not going to eat it before it expires, simply freeze it to extend its lifespan!
  • There are lots of different date stamps out there, from ‘use by’ to ‘use within’ and ‘best before’. We’ve explained what they all mean here so you know exactly when something is safe to eat.

Cooking and serving your food

  • Label your leftovers! This will help you to remember what’s in your containers and tell you what needs eaten first.
  • Perfect your portions: cooking consciously only what you need for each meal can save you money and reduce the amount of left-over food waste.


With a bit of planning, it’s possible to make sure that all the food that you buy gets used up! Being smart with leftovers can also cut down the amount of time you spend cooking, and the amount of money you spend on food. Here are our top tips:

  • Label and date your leftovers before they go in the freezer so you know when to enjoy them at their best, and what they are!
  • When planning your meals, factor in leftovers too – they can make a tasty and easy lunch or snack!
  • Freeze or chill leftovers in portion-sized containers so you only have to defrost or use what you need.
  • Only reheat chilled leftovers or defrosted meals once.
  • Defrost leftovers properly if they’ve been in the freezer, and heat until piping hot throughout.
  • You should only freeze meat or fish once. But, you can defrost meat, cook it as a meal, then freeze the meal for later heating & eating! For more information about safely reheating leftovers, visit Food Safety Scotland’s website.

Want more information?

For our top waste-reducing recipes, check out our tasty recipes here.

While some food waste is avoidable, things like peelings and scraps can be recycled using a food caddy or compost bin. If you can’t use it, recycle it! For more information on recycling food waste, click here.

To download the above information in a handy PDF which you can print off, click here