SCOTS bin one fifth of all the food and drink they buy every year, wasting an astonishing £1bn a year, according to new research.
Drinks are the most-wasted purchase, with 70,000 tonnes worth £140m thrown in the bin or poured down the sink.
And a shocking 62,000 tonnes of vegetables, purchased at a cost of £100m, rot in household bins rather than helping make the country healthier.
The nation’s bread bins are where £90m-worth of bakery items go stale and mouldy, generating a further 46,000 tonnes of waste.
Fresh fruit weighing 34,000 tonnes and worth £70m, and 20,000 tonnes of meat and fish, worth £130m, also end up in the bin.
Despite the desperate economic times and emergence of food banks in Scottish communities, many consumers can afford to buy more than can eat or drink.
The average value of the wasted items is £430 a year for every household in the country, according to the latest government figures.
The combined total of 400,000 tonnes of wasted food is dumped in landfill sites where it produces methane and other greenhouse gases.
Ministers will this week launch a campaign to persuade Scotland to buy less, cook less and waste less.
Smarter shopping, better household planning and improved storage are key to reducing the food waste mountain, they say.
But Green MPS Patrick Harvie accused ministers of missing the point.
He said: “Instead of continually lecturing the public, the Scottish Government needs to give people their choices back when it comes to food shopping.
“Ministers, as well as local authorities, have allowed corporate interests to take priority, with our towns and cities surrounded by massive supermarkets that encourage you to fill up the boot of your car, often with hard-to-resist special offers like BOGOFs – Buy One Get One Free.
“It’s time we told the retail giants to BOGOF and gave local shops a helping hand to compete.”
The government’s anti-waste campaign will use TV advertising and social media to try to educate Scots about food waste.
A national information roadshow will start touring Scotland later in October. Advice includes avoiding shopping when you are hungry and using lemons and herbs to revive food that appears to be past its best.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “By making a few simple changes to the way we plan our meals, to our weekly food shopping, to using up leftovers and to better storage, we can help our pockets and the environment too.”
He added: “The new food waste reduction campaign aims to benefit everyone by providing help and advice.
“It seeks to empower everyone to shop smarter, waste less, save more and help create a greener, cleaner Scotland now and for the future.”
The government says reducing food waste is seven times better for the environment than attempting to recycle it.
It says that if food does have to be thrown away it should be composted for fertiliser or used in the creation of energy.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) welcomed the campaign, said “good progress” had already been made in reducing food waste.
Stephen Hagan, Cosla’s spokesman for the issue, said: “Small steps by individuals to tackle food waste will make continuing this progress an easier task in hard times.”