No, I haven’t completely lost my mind. Hear me out.
According to the website Love Food Hate Waste we throw out more than 15 million tonnes of food in the UK each year. Almost 50% of this figure, they say, comes from our homes.
Every week families throughout the UK spend money on food that they don’t get around to eating. That buy-one-get-one-free deal, or 3 for 2 offer is only a bargain if you’re going to use it. If you don’t, it’s just a waste.
Why you shouldn’t throw out food that is past its ‘best before’ date
So many people take too much notice of the best before dates on the labels, not realising that what they are doing is in fact throwing out perfectly edible food. Passing a ‘best before’ date does not mean that the food has gone off, it just means that its texture or quality may not be quite as good.
That is ‘may not’, not ‘will not’. More often than not it tastes exactly the same for a while to come.
Often, food can be kept for quite a while past the best before date to no ill effect. The exception to the rule is eggs, which can be eaten for a day or two after their ‘best before’ date, but it is not advised to hold onto them any longer.
The Food Standards Agency has a lot more information for you regarding food and best before dates, in case you want to check for yourself.
So why do shops remove products that have passed their ‘best before’ dates?
Whilst retailers can still sell products which have passed their ‘best before’ dates, few of them actually do. In fact, you are more likely to see them in the reduced item section as they approach these dates. So now that you know that it will do you no harm, you can make the most of the bargain bin and grab a deal or two for what quite often is a very low price.
Retailers are not allowed to sell products which have passed their ‘use by’ dates. That’s illegal.
How can I take advantage of this newfound knowledge and save money?
Whilst you might find a bargain or two in your local supermarket, they don’t tend to devote much shelf space to the ‘best before’ and damaged items. They would much rather utilise as much space as they can in charging you the full price for the rest of the products – hence the reason so much good and perfectly edible food is being wasted every, single day.
Online though, we have a completely different story.
Approved Food and Food Bargains are just two online retailers which have been specially created to take advantage of the surplus foods that supermarkets and other food retailers just haven’t been able to shift. They also sell ‘de-identified’ brand named goods, including toiletries, pet food and accessories, and household cleaning products – all hugely discounted from their original prices. Often, you will also find foodstuff which is still well within its expiry date and available in bulk, allowing you to save even more.
What’s the catch?
The disadvantage to these stores is that you cannot go armed with your shopping list and expect to find what you want or need. It really is down to luck as to what bargains they have available, and what the stock supply looks like. Approved Foods allow you to set up an alert so that you receive a notification when any specific products come back into stock.
Often, they are unaware themselves as to what will be available in the near future, relying on other retailers to provide their surplus stock.
It is well worth signing up to their mailing list to be alerted as to any new offers or deals which have come up. Delivery is also quite pricey at around £5 or so but you will more than make up for it with the savings you make.
You could also team up with friends or family to create a co-op and bulk buy, dividing the cost of delivery between you, which will help you to save even more.
What kind of deals do they offer? Does it really make a difference?
This week’s deals at Approved Food, for example, include ten tins of broken mandarin segments for £1.00 (yes, that’s £1 for all ten, not £1 each), Persil Handwash Powder for £1.49 a box (instead of £2.78), 2kgs penne pasta for £1.00, 250mls of olive oil for 99p, and 3 kgs of coffee whitener for 99p too! All of which is perfectly fine to use or eat – except for the Persil – I wouldn’t recommend eating that!
Likewise, Food Bargains has 2kg of spaghetti for £1, a seven pack of Hula Hoops for 69p and a box of 80 PG Tips teabags for £1.19.
They are just a few examples I found out of more than 1,000 items they have in stock, but remember stock does change regularly so it’s worth keeping an eye out.
If you find any exceptional bargains you’d like to share, come and let us know on our forums before they run out!
Come and discuss this post on our ‘Save money, stop waste…’ thread over on our forums now.