Top Tips to Avoid Food Waste

Posted by Michael.Thorburn on 29th March 2018

Did you know that more than half of all Scots – 55% to be exact – believe that climate change is an urgent and immediate problem to solve? The latest Scottish Household Survey, which was recently published by The Scottish Government, revealed this statistic. What it  highlights is that, despite some great effort, more work still needs to be done in Scotland’s fight against climate change.

With that in mind, we’re launching a new campaign with Scotland’s National Chef, Gary Maclean and we wanted to share the details with you all! The Masterchef winner is joining us to urge Scots all around the country to join in the fight against climate change by making some small changes in their kitchens. Gary is obviously right at home in the kitchen, so there is no better place for him to raise awareness of how making greener lifestyle changes are easier than many people think!

As you might expect, Gary’s main focus was on food, and more importantly, preventing food waste and recycling the food you can’t use up. He was quick to point out that tackling climate change doesn’t have to be about a large overhaul of your lifestyle. For many people, small, simple and easy changes can really make all the difference. As an added bonus, not only will many of these little changes help make Scotland a greener place to live, they can also save you some money too!

So, without further ado, we give you Gary’s top tips to avoid unnecessary food waste.

  •  Plan your meals: it only takes 10 minutes to think through what you’ll need for the week and planning ahead means you’ll only buy what you need.
  • Work with leftovers: when planning your week’s meals, remember to work in potential leftovers too – they can make tasty and quick lunches and snacks.
  • Know your labels: check the ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates on the food you plan to buy. ‘Use by’ is the date which relates to food safety, whereas ‘best before’ is an indication of quality. Have a look and get to know the difference.
  • Buy loose fruit and vegetables: buying loose rather than pre-packaged helps cut down on packaging waste and is often cheaper. There’s no point buying four peppers when you only need two!
  • Freeze your bread and toast from frozen: bread keeps for longer when stored in the freezer but tastes just as good as fresh when toasted. Pop half the loaf straight into the freezer when you get home from the shops if you know you won’t use it all straight away.
  • You don’t need to plate food: if you have a big family or a group of friends, it’s often easier to put a big bowl or casserole dish in the middle of the table and let everyone take what they want. It really helps avoid food waste as everything leftover can just be frozen afterwards.
  • Reusable freezer bags are a great invention: you can freeze food flat in a freezer bag, it takes up very little space and the food will defrost quickly when you need it.  
  • Date your leftovers: put a name and date on your leftovers before they go in the freezer so you know when to enjoy them at their best – and what they are!
  • Unavoidable food waste doesn’t need to go to waste: things like egg shells and peelings can be recycled by most local authorities, or you can start a wee compost bin at home.

The great news is that many people up and down the country are already attempting to tackle the food waste problem in Scotland. The Scottish Household Survey also highlighted that 56% of the Scottish population is already disposing of their food waste in local authority provided ‘food caddies’. While this has more than doubled in the last five years (up from 26% in 2012) I think we can all agree that it would be great to see that number rise even more.

Zero Waste Scotland has estimated that Scottish households throw out roughly 600,000 tonnes of food every year. That’s the equivalent of £460 per household per year, or a total cost of £1.1 billion to people in Scotland. Amazingly, almost two thirds of this food waste is completely avoidable if we can begin to make some of Gary’s suggested changes.

Greener living will help make Scotland a better place for everyone to be – it will mean cleaner air, warmer homes, less noise and pollution and better health for everyone. By making simple everyday lifestyle changes today, we will go a long way towards helping Scotland fight the serious consequences of climate change, so what are you waiting for? Let’s make Scotland greener together!