6 ways to make your food last longer than the “best before” date

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By in Food & Drink. Updated July 2014.

Come on, fess up, how much food have you chucked in the bin this year instead of down your gullet? Too much we reckon.womaneatingYou know the drill, you’re a hard up student and wasted food equals wasted money, not to mention the ethical impact and the damage to the environment.

Yet while it’s totally true that inedible food must be condemned to the land of the kitchen bin, all too often we’ll chuck something that’s actually still a-ok to eat. In fact, experts reckon we chuck out nearly £700 of edible food every year.

So how can you save yourself the dollar and wasted food and buy some more gin? And what really is the deal with the best before date? Buckle up for our guide to wasting less food. You’re in for a treat.

6 ways to make your food last longer

  1. Food is fine after the “Best Before” date

    happyfoodOne of the biggest misconceptions of the food industry today is that you cannot eat food after the best before date has passed. Straight up: it’s just a recommendation, you totally can.

    A best before date (with the exception of eggs) just tells you how the long the product will be in prime condition for, and it many cases it will taste just dandy after that anyway.

    While it’s generally a case of looking at the food and using your common sense to see if it’s eatable, a general rule of thumb is that it’ll still be ace 50% longer than the manufacturer says it will.

    Just to reiterate; eating food after it’s best before date is totally safe and fine. Just make sure it passes the visual and smell test and you’ll be laughing.

  2. Use-by dates don’t work the second the clock strikes midnight

    cinderellamidnightSo, it’s totally fine to eat stuff after the best-before date, but when you see the term “use-by” you should be a lot more careful.

    The use-by date is a safety measure to give an idea of when food will become hazardous to eat if you keep it for too long.

    Especially with “high-risk” foods such as meat, fish and dairy, it’s always better to be on the safe side and throw it out. Food poisoning is not a fun way to spend you time.

    This said, use-by dates don’t kick in the minute the clock strikes midnight. If your milk went out yesterday and it’s just 7am, it’s probably still okay to glug down.

  3. Use your common sense

    catsmellIf you’re a bit of a clever clogs you might have noticed a recurring theme in the last two points; common sense.

    When you’re looking to eat something and stay alive just give it a few checks over; does it smell good and does it look good?

    If the answer is yes and it hasn’t been residing in your fridge for longer than you can remember then you’ll probably be fine.

  4. Freeze food that’s close to going off

    freezerfailIf your food is close to either its use-by or its best before and you don’t want to chuck it but don’t have time for eating right now, just chuck it in the freezer.

    Much more stuff can be frozen than you probably think, so much so that we’ve written a whole article on how you can totally make your stuff last another couple of months. Woop woop.

  5. Cook it all up

    cookingdogSimilarly, if your food is on it’s way out and you don’t want to waste it, cook it up into something yummy, which can then be stored for longer.

    For example, if your mince is about to go off, make it into spag bol and it’ll keep in the fridge for another week. Equally, vegetables on the way out will make for a great soup.

    If you need some cooking ideas, be sure to check out our recipes section.

  6. Revive it from the dead

    revivefoodFinally, if all else fails, then you can always try and spruce up your food and bring it back to life.

    Before you start laughing at us, a rescue mission isn’t a false hope; you can easily revive crisps, pizza and much more by a variety of cheeky tricks.

    Check out our guide on some popular foods to get you started.

So there you have it. It might not be the end of the road for that onion that’s been sitting lonely in the back of your cupboard after all.

What’s more, you can even save a packet by shopping specifically for food that’s past or close to its best before date, so it’s well worth getting comfy with the idea of best before dates being simply a guide.

As always, don’t forget to share the love and knowledge if you’ve got some extra tricks up your sleeve. Also, we just like comments. It makes us feel popular.

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