Would You Buy Out of Date Food to Save Money?


Have you ever found yourself wandering round a supermarket and wondering how to make your budget stretch to cover all the things you need to buy?

I have been there and at times I have been saved by the special offer sections where products close to their sell by dates are sold off cheaply. Sandwiches and yoghurts are particular favourites in this section and I´ve never been disappointed by finding that something is mouldy or tastes bad.

Millions of tons of food are thrown away in the world every year, which is an awful waste of resources as well as a waste of money. This means that I was pleased to see recently that more and more people seem to be aware of the possibility of eating food that is reaching or has reached its date. So how does this work?

The Basics

The dates on food products aren´t as precise as you might think. It´s not as though a bar of chocolate suddenly turns sour and bread grows mouldy on the stroke of midnight. When food has a Best Before date on it then this quite simply means that after that date the manufacturer can´t guarantee that the quality will be the same. Having said that, if the date has just passed then there is every chance that the product is exactly the same as it was before the date. It is generally agreed that you can safely consume products after the Best Before date has passed.

The Use By date is different from the Best Before date, though. This is a far more important date to follow, as it is used on food that goes off quickly and can harm your health if you consume it. Eating something that has passed its Use By date is to be avoided at all costs.

How to Do It

Bearing those basics in mind, there are a few ways to take advantage of food that is out of date or right on its expiry date. The first one is to stop throwing away stuff that is perfectly fine to consume. As long as you are clear about the difference between Best Before and Use By then this won´t be a problem.

Another approach is to do what I have done and check out those supermarket offers. The only problem with this is that you are at the mercy of whatever is left over that day. It might test your cooking skills to the limit if you are looking to buy a cheap dinner and can only find rice, cheese and prawn cocktail crisps on offer.

These days a good approach is to simply go online and look for a site like the ‘Approved Food’ one. This site sells food that is out of date or close to its date but that is perfectly fine to eat. Some of the offers on this site are amazing and can save you a lot of cash. In fact, by buying in this way you can try out new products that are normally too expensive and maybe even add some healthier food to your diet.

What experiences have you had with food that it close to or past its sell by date?

4 Responses to Would You Buy Out of Date Food to Save Money?

  1. The expiration date has no science behind it…it is simply the manufacturer’s “best guess” as to when it won’t be good anymore. The best test is to sniff it and see. Given that, I would totally buy out of date food if it was cheaper, especially if I knew I was going to use it right away!

    • Robert Bell says:

      You are right,Brock. It can be a sensible way to save some money, especially if you are going to us it right away

  2. Kathy says:

    I use food past the expiration date but I don’t buy it. In fact, especially with milk, I shuffle through the jugs in the cooler to fine one with the furthest expiration date. I don’t know how the product has been handled to preserve freshness prior to my acquisition, but I do know that I’ve kept it properly refrigerated or otherwise stored once I’ve purchased it.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Thanks for the comment Kathy. I do a lot of milk shuffling as well, as I always use stuff like milk in date order

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