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Food & Drink

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

Come on, fess up, how much food have you chucked in the bin this year instead of down your gullet? Too much we reckon.

eating food past best by date

Credit: Toho

Hard-up student + wasted food = wasted money. Finances aside, it's also just not ethically or environmentally great to throw food away frivolously.

In fact, experts reckon the average household chucks out nearly £700 of food every year.

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 food away that's still perfectly a-ok to eat.

So how can you save yourself some dollar and avoid wasting food? 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 (fully edible) treat.

Did you know the UK's first ever food waste supermarket has launched? They distribute produce from supermarkets that can't be sold because it's past it's 'best before' date but is still perfectly edible, at a price of your choosing.

6 ways to make your food last longer

  1. Don't obsess about 'best before' dates

    One of the biggest misconceptions about the food industry is that you can't eat food after the best before date has passed. The truth? It's actually just a recommendation, you totally can.

    A best before date (with the exception of eggs) just tells you how long the product will be in prime condition for, and in 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 okay 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 first.

  2. Remember that 'Best Before' is different to 'Use By'

    use by dates

    Credit: Walt Disney Productions

    It's totally fine to eat stuff after the best before date, as that particular date just refers to when the manufacturer thinks the food is in its prime. But with use by dates you should be a bit more careful.

    The use by date is more of a safety measure, to give you an idea of when food could be potentially dangerous to eat.

    With 'high-risk' foods such as meat, fish and dairy, it's always better to be on the safe side and throw it out if the use by date has passed. Food poisoning isn't fun!

    That said, use by dates don't kick in the minute the clock strikes midnight. If your milk went out of date yesterday and it's just 7am, it's probably still okay. Just exercise caution....

  3. Use your common sense

    mouldy food

    If you're a bit of a clever clogs you might have noticed there's a bit of a recurring theme here - common sense!

    When you're really keen to eat something but also want to stay alive, give the food in question a good check over. Does it smell bad? Is there anything growing on it?

    If the answer is 'yes', then we'd recommend staying well clear. If not, you'll probably be fine.

  4. Freeze food that's close to going off

    freezing food

    Credit: mliu92 - Flickr

    If your food is close to either its use by or best before date and you won't have time to eat it before then - chuck it in the freezer.

    Even the most unfreezeable things you can think of are probably totally freezable - so much so that we've written an entire guide on it!

    Similarly, keeping tabs of the best ways to store different kinds of foods will keep them at their best for weeks longer than expected.

  5. Cook it all up

    cooking food

    Credit: The Walt Disney Company

    If your food is on it's way out and you don't want to waste it, cook it up into something that 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 since the mince meat will be cooked. Equally, vegetables on the way out will make for a great soup.

    Again, separating what you cook into single portions and freezing them will massively minimise wastage.

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

  6. Revive it from the dead

    rescuing out of date food

    Credit: Warner Bros

    If all else fails - never give up hope! Sometimes food that looks as though it's already dead and buried can be brought back to life.

    A rescue mission isn't a false hope; you can easily revive crisps, pizza and much more by using a variety of cheeky tricks.

You can even save a packet by shopping online specifically for food that's past (or close to) its best before date, so get comfy with the idea and you'll save a mint.

Don't forget to share the love/knowledge in the comments below if you've got some extra food-salvaging tricks up your sleeve!