The Alternate Student Shop – Out Of Date Food?

You can buy and eat out of date food! If you think that this idea is crazy, hear me out. Eating some foods that are past their dates can be pretty risky, especially meat and other fresh products. For other foods however, it’s not as big an issue as you may have been led to believe. What’s the difference between best before and use by?

Best Before

You’ll often find a best before date on tinned and packaged foods, this date gives an idea to the quality of a product for a given time. Just because something is past its best before date doesn’t mean that you’ll become ill from eating it, it simply means that the food might not be at its absolute best.

It’s safe to eat food past it’s best before date (if it hasn’t been opened), as the food inside is kept sealed from any outside air and microbes. So, if you find a tin of food and it’s past its best before date…don’t worry!

Don't worry too much about the Best Before!
Don’t worry too much about the Best Before!

Use By

This is the date that you need to pay more attention to. These dates are given to any fresh product or foods that aren’t in sterile containers. While there may be some leeway with a couple of products such as yoghurts (which is already ‘gone off’ milk to begin with), if you leave foods too long after their use by dates, then the food may be too spoilt and slightly dangerous to eat. As the food goes off, bacteria levels grow, which if eaten could give you a bad case of food poisoning. If you think that your food might go past the use by date before you can have it, see if you can freeze it.

If you’d like some more info on food safety, follow this link to the Food Standards Agency website.

So what’s this about an alternate food shop?

Well, there are websites that sell food that’s past its best before dates. I’ve used a great website, Approved Food, which is a huge online retailer of close to or past best before foods, as well as other household products. It sells them at super low prices, and on my first shop from there I bought £30 of food for only £10!

approved food

The range of products that you can get is large and varied, they have name brand products e.g. Walkers, McVities and Quaker Oats, as well as supermarket own brands. What they offer also varies from week to week, and they advertise foods that they have low in stock.

Here are some examples of what they’ve currently got in stock:

  • Kellogs Special K Red Berries 320g – £1.49 (originally 2.69)
  • McCoys Classic Variety Crips  – £0.89 (originally £1.88)
  • Tilda Pilau Rice 250g – £0.89 (originally £1.59)
  • Discovery The Perfect Fajita Kit – £0.99 (originally £3.19)
  • Cadbury Fingers 125g  – £0.89 (originally £1.99)

So if you bought these products at full price, they would total £11.94. From Approved Foods, they total £5.15.

It doesn’t sell chilled or frozen foods, so whilst you can’t really do a full supermarket style shop, getting fresh fruit&veg, cheeses or meats, you can certainly get lots of store cupboard essentials for a super discount price.

With the ever rising cost of food, I think that those on a tight budget should definitely consider this website. I know there are some who say that they wouldn’t dream of eating anything past its best before, but this website might just prove them wrong.

Would you buy food that’s past its best before date? Comment below!


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