Food Waste, Avoiding Overspending, and Sources of Support this Festive Season

Many of us are seeing increases in our food shopping bills at the till, and this will be no different moving into the festive season.

Ten pence here, and twenty pence there quickly adds up to pounds at the checkout, and with many budgets tighter this year, understanding how to make the most of our money is important, as is knowing where to turn for support when we need to.


Planning is helpful in reducing food waste, not solely at Christmas but throughout the year. Making a list before going to the supermarket helps to understand what it is that we need exactly and gives us a structure of what to buy.  

Sometimes we end up in the Supermarket by accident and can end up over-purchasing items, taking buy-one-get one free offers, or picking up an item on special offer that we don’t particularly need. 

The alternative is to take stock of the excess that we have and repurpose it.

In circumstances where there is food leftover after cooking for the family in the lead up to Christmas, or on the big day itself, think of alternative recipes that could make things interesting.

The traditional turkey curry or sandwiches can be replaced with ‘pulled-turkey burritos’ or other creations. This is an opportunity to be creative and do something different with the leftovers. 

Health & Safety 

Considerations should be made to health and safety when repurposing and reusing food, especially when it has previously been frozen.

When reheating food, special attention should be made to the temperature of items, ensuring that they reach a core temperature of 70 degrees Celsius and hold this temperature for two minutes. Incorrectly reheated food can cause stomach upsets and can make people unwell. 

The Food Standards Agency have an excellent resource online to demonstrate positive food safety and to ensure that by following these guidelines, we do not make anyone unwell.

Make the most of offers and coupons

There are many supermarkets that offer discounts and special offers on everyday items by signing up to newsletters and customer loyalty cards / schemes. This can be helpful when planning meals, as many display current items and offers on mobile apps and in regular mailings they post out to members.

It is important to ensure that our data is secure when signing up to these schemes, and that our information will not be shared with anyone unnecessarily. We can check the terms and conditions for this information.

Shopping around where we can is also a good idea, as we can regularly pick up bargains. By visiting more than one store, we can get an idea of the prices of different items.

Struggling with everyday costs?

We understand how hard this Christmas will be for Scots who are struggling with the sharp rises in costs for electricity, gas, food, and other products. Many people who were managing previously are now finding themselves in difficult situations.

It is an incredibly challenging time, and the festive period will only add to the pressure as people are expected to spend money on gifts and food.

We also know that this is likely to worsen existing debt problems or create new ones for people who have never found themselves in debt before.

Help is available, and it is important for people to know they do not have to suffer alone.

Advice Direct Scotland offers a wide range of services that can help with tackling debt; supporting people with their energy bills; making referrals to further sources of support; and giving advice on consumer issues.

We would encourage Scots to get in touch with our advisers if they are worried. Sometimes talking things through can help us to make a plan and move forward.

ENERGY service can help with understanding energy bills, issues with meters, complaints and disputes and switching suppliers. Our specialist team are available on 0808 196 8660 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).

Advisors can make referrals to sources of support such as the Scottish Government’s Home Heating Support Fund, which seeks to provide financial relief to energy consumers who are experiencing significant financial hardship or are rationing energy to get by.

Individual households can also apply through, by choosing the ‘Household Application’ route, provided they have received money and/or energy advice from an accredited advice agency. The team at can also refer onto the 0808 800 9060 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm). 

Advice Direct Scotland’s service gives free information and support on a range of debt-related issues. They are available on 0808 196 2316 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm). 

We also have a free online benefits checker tool, available at where Scots can look to make sure they are claiming everything they are eligible for.


Our experts give advice on consumer-related issues like people’s rights when making returns and seeking refunds. The team are available 0808 164 6000 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).

Advice Direct Scotland’s top tips for saving money for avoiding food waste, and using Christmas leftovers sensibly –

  • If you don’t need it, don’t buy it – Reduce waste by not buying as much in the first place. Make a shopping list before you go and don’t be tempted into unnecessary purchases by the shine of deals such as Buy One Get One Free – ‘BOGOF’.

  • Reheat sensibly – Cooked food that has been frozen and removed from the freezer should be reheated and eaten within 24 hours of defrosting. Any longer than this would make it unsafe to eat!

  • Check the temperatures – Remember that when reheating food, it should reach a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius for at least two minutes. This kills potential bacteria and could save you or your loved ones from becoming ill.

  • Portion-positive – Ensure that you dispense leftovers into portion sizes before freezing. This allows you to keep the food for longer in the freezer and not have to defrost the full dish. You should only take out what you intend to use over the next 24 hours.

  • Soup for the soul (and the wallet) – Soups can be made from leftover vegetables and meat. You can ‘save by soup-ing’. You can find many innovative (and tasty) recipes online!

Advice Direct Scotland are running our ‘Countdown to Christmas’ campaign through the festive season. This is focusing on the things we can do to save money this festive season. For more information, visit