Today’s guest post is from Fiona at Savvy in Somerset. What she doesn’t know about reduced food and reducing food waste is not worth knowing!
Buying reduced food is something I’m a little bit obsessed with. The majority of the fruit, vegetables and meat I buy comes from the reduced section and if I can find other discounted items too, all the better. Today I am going to share with you my top tips for getting the best-reduced bargains, ways to make sure your food doesn’t go off and finally some of the best times to hit up the supermarkets for the best-reduced bargains.
Buying reduced food has saved me an absolute fortune over the years and it’s now got the stage where I’m a bit of a reduced food ninja. I know what time my local co-op does their final reductions. I know exactly where the reduced section is in every single one of my local supermarkets. And I can make a meal out of practically anything I find there.
Some people are put off buying reduced food and there are lots of reasons for this:
- They think it will go off quicker.
- They think it’s cheap’ or ‘tight’ – essentially they’re embarrassed.
- They think it’s full of random foods no-one else wanted to buy.
The first thing to know about reduced food is the way food labelling works in the U.K. The majority of food in U.K supermarkets is given either a ‘Use By’ or ‘Best before’ date.
‘Use by’ is the most important of these two dates and is the date food should be eaten by to prevent it causing any foodborne illnesses. Supermarkets are legally required not to sell any food past this date.
‘Best Before’ is the date food is in prime condition until. After that date, it may have deteriorated slightly but is still perfectly safe to eat, and more often than not there is absolutely nothing wrong with it after that date.
The problem with these two labels is that they cause a huge amount of food waste. A combination of people not understanding which is which, adhering to them too stringently and supermarkets and restaurants being legally obliged to rid of out of date food lead to millions of tonnes of food being binned each year when actually it’s perfectly edible.
Reducing food close to its use by or best before date is one way that supermarkets try to avoid it being thrown away. Another point to remember is food doesn’t magically become inedible at one minute past midnight on its ‘Use By’ date – using common sense and looking at food colouring and smell should tell you whether or not it’s safe to eat.
Often when we buy meat from an independent butcher it doesn’t come with a use-by date – we judge for ourselves whether or not we want to eat it after a few days and I think this approach really helps when trying to reduce food waste on the whole.
There are also plenty of ways to ensure your short-dated food don’t go to waste.
Of course, certain reduced foods are going go off quicker than others – especially things like soft fruit, prepared fruit, and avocados – these probably do need to be eaten on the day of purchase or the following day at the latest. Other fruit and vegetables are usually okay for several days in the fridge and can be cooked or frozen (or both!) to prolong their life.
With meat bought from the reduced section, I typically freeze it if I’m not going to use it on the day of purchase, however, most would likely be ok in the fridge for a day or two. You can also cook meat and it will then be fine for four or five days if stored correctly in the fridge. Meat could also be frozen after being cooked prolonging its life further again.
How To Get The Best Reduced Bargains
There does seem to be a bit of knack to finding the best-reduced bargains – I do shop at lots of different supermarkets and mix up the times of day I go. It’s not always late at night that the best bargains are found either – I’ve found lettuces and raspberries for 10p at eleven o clock in the morning before. Get the best value for money by meal and recipe planning in advance of going shopping. This will mean you have an idea of what you need to buy, but also stick to your budget. This is especially key if you are following a healthy living or diet plan such as Slimming World.
Best Reduction Times
- Asda – Reductions start at 10am for fresh fruit and vegetables. Other items added during the day, levels of reduction vary.
- Tesco – Different at every store so always worth checking
- Aldi – Reductions of 30% to 50% and can be found at any time of day.
- Lidl – Reductions of 30% throughout the store – look on the shelves and in the 20p fruit and veg basket
- Co-op – Reductions can be found throughout the day although they are best during the evening.
- Morrisons – Reductions begin mid-morning. Mid-afternoon is best for reduced cakes and bread.
- Sainsbury’s – Usually has lots reductions available by 12pm but the best are found late in the evenings – between 9pm and 10pm.