Feeling a bit nervous about buying reduced food for the first time? Here I clear up 10 big misconceptions about buying yellow sticker foods
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know how much I love buying reduced food. I head straight for the yellow sticker sections as soon as I get to the supermarket and grab whatever I can. It means the majority of the food I buy is discounted, often by as much as 90% and it means we eat really well while not spending very much at all. Yes, we could spend a lot more but I enjoy saving money where I can I have a bit extra to spend on the fun things in life.
There are a lot of misconceptions around buying reduced food – why people do it, whether it’s safe to eat and so on. In this post I’ll attempt to clear up some of those negative ideas and hopefully encourage people to try some yellow sticker hunting.
1. You Must it eat it on the day of Purchase
Personally I think one of the biggest causes of food waste in the U.K comes firstly from people not understanding the difference between ‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ and secondly talking the ‘Use By’ by stamp way too literally.
‘Best before’ is simply an indication of the quality of food. It is usually delicious and completely safe to eat well after this date, as long as it has been stored correctly. Most tins, jars and dried goods will have a best before date but often this can be ignored.
3. You can only buy Reduced Food Late in the evening
So often the best are later on in the day BUT there is still plenty to be had during the day. I recently stocked up on raspberries at 10p a punnet and and Romaine lettuce at two for 10p at my local Morrison’s at midday. No matter what time you shop, it’s always worth looking. If you can’t leave the house in the evening, try 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, another great time for picking up bargains.
4. Reduced Food is Poor Quality
In my experience it is very, very rare that this is true. Even if occasionally food is reduced because the packaging is damaged, the contents is more often than not, absolutely fine.
I think a lot of the thinking around this is tied up around use by dates in people’s mentality the food won’t be okay to eat. Occasionally there will be the odd soggy looking lettuce or strawberries that are past their best, but just don’t buy them.
5. Only Weird Food Gets Reduced
Okay, so sometimes you can pick up some more unusual ingredients in the reduced section as supermarkets try to get rid of foods that they inevitably sell less of. But it also works the other way in that there is often a surplus of more everyday foods too – I honestly can’t remember the last time I paid full price for a pack of fresh chicken breasts.
For me, finding more unusual food means I get creative in the kitchen and we end up trying foods we might not have normally thought try – and if we’re not over keen it doesn’t matter because we’ve only spent very little on them. One of my best ever finds was packs of Scallops and King Prawns reduced to 5p per pack in Morrison’s one year after Christmas. Not something I’d have usually bought at £5.99 a pack but at that price I bought 9 and froze them.
6. That you can only get Fresh Produce Reduced
It not just fresh produce that gets reduced either, often supermarkets will reduce lines that are being re-branded or discontinued as well as those approaching their best before dates. This is a great way to stock up the cupboards without spending very much at all. In the past I’ve had 6p packets of foxes biscuits, £1.20 2 liter bottles of Olive Oil and 39p bags of popcorn – all with lovely long Best Before dates. I actually used some of them to make this hamper last Christmas – which cost just £3 for £20 worth of goodies.
7. That There are Fights in The reduced Aisles
While fights in the reduced Aisle have been well publicized across the news and social media, this is something I have never actually witnessed myself. Most people are friendly and polite and are just trying some bargain foods for their family, just like you are.
8. That reduced Food Can’t be Frozen
A question I often see asked about reduced food is whether it’s safe to freeze on the day on purchase, as that is often the day it goes out of date. Again I think this comes down to people not understanding use by dates and that freezing actually prevents further deterioration of food, so of course it will last longer.
You could also cook the food on the day and the freeze down once cooled. Most food can be cooked and then reheated at least once without being dangerous to eat, so cooked chicken from the freezer could be defrosted and used to make a curry without being harmful to eat – just make sure it’s piping hot before serving.
9. That it Won’t Last
Again another misconception that relies heavily on people using the dates on food rather than what they can actually see and smell. I have bought reduced carrots from the Co-op before that have lasted over a month in the fridge. If you think food might at the point of going over, get it cooked or frozen before goes off to avoid wasting it.
10. That You Can’t Meal Plan
Meal planning is, of course, a great way to save money on your groceries. While a lot of people will meal plan for the week using what already in their cupboards and freezer and then buy any extra food they need. I usually take a more flexible approach, yes I’ll take a good look at what I have before I shop but I’ll also adapt my menus based on the reduced food that I find. With a store-cupboard of basics such as rice, noodles and pasta and frozen vegetables it shouldn’t be too difficult to integrate some different ingredients into your meal plan.