Know your date labels
Know your date labelsCheck the 'use by' or 'best before' dates on the food you plan to buy. Choose longer dates for items you won't use immediately.
- 'Use by' – used on foods that go off quickly, such as meat, fish, milk and dairy products. These dates refer to food safety. You shouldn’t consume food or drink past its 'use by' date, even if it looks and smells fine.
- 'Best before' – appears on a wide range of frozen, dried, canned and other foods. It's about signalling when food is at its best quality; it doesn't have anything to do with food safety (except when it comes to eggs). Eggs can be eaten for up to two days following the 'best before' date. You can use all other items after this date – they just won’t be as fresh.
- 'Sell by' – one for the supermarket staff. This simply indicates when the shop needs to sell the product by. You can consume items after this date as long as the ‘use by’ date hasn't also passed.
- 'Use within' - also check details about storing food and drink correctly after opening and using it up within a certain time. If the item says 'eat within three days' but the 'use by' date is the following day, you must still consume it by the end of tomorrow for safety
Shop smarterThere are a few simple ways to start cutting down on food waste – and begin saving money – straight away.
- Don't go shopping for food when you're hungry
- Take advantage of multi-buy offers only if you can freeze or share the extra items or know you'll use them in time
- Avoid impulse buying – by either you or the kids!
- Avoid doing huge shops for fresh produce – shopping little and often can help you stop buying so much that food goes off before you have the chance to use it
- Read the label and check the 'use by' date before you buy