Top Scots chef teams up with Zero Waste Scotland to help Scots tackle food waste this Christmas

With the festive season upon us, top Scots chef Gary Maclean and Zero Waste Scotland are hoping to inspire people to tackle food waste this Christmas.

Published 19th Dec 2017
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

In December alone it’s estimated that a staggering 60 million meals will go uneaten - this includes seasonal favourites such as 3.5million mince pies, more than 240,000 Christmas puddings and over 100,000 turkeys all going in the bin.

If saved from going to waste, it’s reported that this could feed the entire population of Scotland from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and represents a potential collective saving of over £90million to Scottish households.

In his first official engagement since being appointed Scotland’s first National Chef, Gary Maclean joined Zero Waste Scotland to share his festive checklist – designed to help minimise food waste and time spent in the kitchen.

Gary’s tips and ‘hacks’ include cooking turkey upside down to prevent it from drying out, serving Christmas lunch ‘buffet-style’ to enable guests to choose their preferred portion size and using up leftovers in tasty, easy-to-make party recipes like turkey spring rolls.

The MasterChef: The Professionals champion explained how he gets the most out of Christmas dinner, he said: “For me, Christmas Day isn’t about slaving away in the kitchen, it’s about spending time with family and the kids playing with Lego on the living room floor.

“Planning ahead, not overcooking the turkey, getting portion sizes right and using a serving-style that makes the post-dinner tidy up incredibly easy are all on my festive food waste checklist.

“I encourage Scots to give the checklist a go to save time and money, and ultimately get the most out of their Christmas Day.”

Roseanna Cunningham, Environment secretary, said: “It will no doubt provide Scots with food for thought that some 60million meals are wasted in December every year. That’s why the Scottish Government has set an ambitious target to cut food waste by 33 per cent by 2025.

“I hope people will pay attention to these simple tips and advice so we can all do our bit to combat unnecessary food waste while enjoying the festive season with friends, family and loved ones.”

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Iain Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland, added: “The Zero Waste Scotland website is fully stocked with tips, tricks and advice on how to save time and money while preparing your Christmas dinner.

“Earlier this year we were delighted to have the backing of Olympic curling family, the Muirheads, who encouraged Scots to go for gold in the fight against food waste by using their freezers.

“A simple solution to a nationwide issue – we encourage Scots to wrap up warm and get freezing.”

The chef has also put together a festive checklist for helping to prevent food waste, which includes buying a turkey that’s smaller than the size you think you need & cooking it upside down.

He explained: “Christmas sees us inclined to over-buy which leads to food waste. When preparing the turkey, cook it upside down, ensuring the juices stay in the breast meat. Dried-out turkey isn’t enjoyable or palatable for you or your guests; meaning it often goes uneaten.”

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Other tips include serving your guests ‘buffet-style’, meaning people can “choose what they please” which is great for “fussy eaters” or those “with a smaller appetite”, and using zip-style sandwich bags and containers to store leftovers in your freezer or fridge - another benefit of the buffet style, which makes it easier to “decant and store leftovers for enjoying at a later date.”

• More information can be found at:

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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