Jenny | Edited by Steve N
Updated 1 Dec 2015
Can you define the difference between a best-before and a display-until date? If not, the likelihood is you're throwing a lot of food away unnecessarily.
We've got a free food labelling memo for you to print out and stick on your fridge, so you can check before you chuck.
Printable food saving memo
Unfortunately you won't be able to print out the memo from your mobile, just from PCs and Macs. So email yourself this guide and check it out when you're able to print from a computer.
More ways to save on food
Supermarkets are cathedrals of consumerism. They're almost perfectly-honed marketing environments, benefiting from millions of pounds of research into how to encourage and seduce us into buying and spending more than we need.
With a few focused techniques, you can save £1,000s annually on supermarket shopping. Our full step-by-step Supermarket Shopping guide has a plethora of ways to maximise discounts – here are a few highlights:
Do the downshift challenge
Over the years, supermarkets have hypnotised us into spending more and moving up the brand chain. Many people gradually buy increasingly more expensive versions of the same thing.
The downshift challenge, which provides ENORMOUS savings, has a simple premise:
Drop one brand level on everything and see if you can tell the difference. If you can't, stick with the cheaper product.
Don't worry, we're not about to argue you should buy no-frills everything. The aim's to downshift only where you can't tell the difference. For many families, this alone can save 15% a year on shopping bills – that's typically around £875. Full how-to in the Supermarket Shopping guide.
Compare supermarket prices at speed
It's possible to speedily compare the prices of your typical shopping trolley at all the online supermarkets. Better still, once you find which are the cheapest, you can just export your basket there, without entering the details again.
This takes place on Mysupermarket*, which checks out the cost of the main online supermarkets: Ocado, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Aldi and Asda.
It's simple to use and you can save your basket of goods, so you don't need to refill it each week. The savings from doing this can add up to £100s a year.
Eat for FREE with a new food-sharing app
Whether it's beer, burgers or strawberries, a new food-sharing app offers quality grub for free. The idea's instead of binning surplus food, people sign up to Olio and offer it to their local community.
How to use the app
Just download the app from Apple's iOS App Store or the Google Play Store. Connect the app to your Facebook and browse free (or heavily discounted) goodies from neighbours and restaurants near you. The app works across the UK.
Once you've found something that takes your fancy, request it and message to arrange a pick-up.
Got some sausages going spare? To give an item away, simply snap a photo, add a brief description and provide pick-up details.
If you choose to add a price, it must be a minimum of 50% off the price paid (max £50). Though the majority of items we saw were free.
Isn't it all manky?
No, we found some top-notch quality goodies; for example, excess loaves of fresh bread from a posh French bakery. People can add any food they like, as long as they'd be willing to eat it themselves. You can add food that's beyond its best-before date, but not use-by date.
People can also add any non-food items they like, though most non-food items are groceries, such as deodorant.
Get big discounts on beyond-best-befores
There's no explicit safety risk just from eating food beyond its best-before date (except for eggs). There are local stores around the UK that specialise in selling food beyond its best-before date, and online the Approved Food stores sells clearance, short-dated and out-of-date stock.
Typical goods include two big packets of Walkers Doritos for £1, three KitKat Chunky's for £1, and 39p for a 500ml bottle of Diet Coke.
There's a £5.25 delivery charge, provided deliveries are under 25kg, so it's worth bulk buying. As there aren't any hard and fast rules on how far beyond a best-before date it's still safe to eat products, you need to make the decision yourself.
Generally though, the longer the original shelf life of the goods before the best-before date, the longer you can go beyond.
Save £100s with grocery coupons
Grocery coupons don't just come in magazines; many are available instantly on the web. Better still, supermarkets sometimes accept coupons for products they're not designed for. So a voucher for £1 off a box of Coco Pops could get you £1 off any shopping, not just the cereal.
Policies can vary store by store on this. It's worth a try, yet never be dishonest. Be upfront and ask their permission.
Note that Tesco, which previously was fairly accommodating on this, has a policy now of not allowing coupons to be used for items they aren't designated for (read the Tesco Coupons news story). To get loads of free vouchers, see the Supermarket Coupons List.