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Ultimate Guide To Reduced Food Shopping

Wanting to learn more about reduced food shopping? then you've come to the right place.

I have a serious passion for saving money on food. It's one of those bills that can quickly go from £20 a week to £40 a week without you even realisting.

You can use multiple different strategies to save money on food. Meal planning, buying in bulk, buying store brands instead of leading brands are just a few.

Today, however, I want to discuss reduced food shopping and how I use this method to save money on our weekly food shop.

What Is Reduced Food

Reduced food is the food within a supermarket that is going out of date or display date that day.

Naturally, when shopping for food we look for items with the longest life span.

After all, why would I want to pay £1.00 for some Apples that go out of date today, when I can buy a packet for the same cost just a little further behind on the shelf that lasts a further 5 days.

However, there's often food in the supermarket that needs to be consumed that day (or the day after).

So, supermarkets encourage us to purchase that food by reducing the price.

Supermarkets often have targets to meet when it comes to food waste, so selling the item even for just 10p is better than it going towards their quota.

How To Preserve Reduced Food

When buying reduced food it's unlikely you're going to be able to consume all or any of it that specific date.

An with this being the date that the food is ‘going off' it's best to preserve it so you can consume it at a later date without complication.

Personally, Helen and I tend to ignore best before dates and use-by dates instead we go on the smell, taste and texture rules.

However, even those only give us two or three days extra on the majority of foods.

Therefore we'll often try and buy items from the reduced food area that are suitable for freezing.

The majority of foods can be frozen before their best-before or use-by date and consumed up to three months later without any issues.

However, I'd always recommend reading the storage instructions on the item you're purchasing to be sure.

Reduced Food Labels

When looking to purchase reduced food items in the supermarket, you should consider the labelling of the packaging.

This will highlight whether or not the food item can be frozen and eaten later for example.

What Does Best Before Mean?

One of the most common food labelling terminology used is ‘best before'.

This phrase is used to describe the food's quality. If the food was passed this date then it will be safe to eat.

The phrase ‘best before' is often found on foods such as; pasta, cereal, herbs and spices, sweets and chocolate.

According to food label terminology provided that you have stored the food correctly, the food is perfectly fine to eat after the best before date. However, the quality may not be at it's best.

ThriftyChap has an awesome post on whether or not you should, can, and whether people really do eat food past it's best before date. It's well worth a read.

What Does Use By Mean?

The food labelling terminology ‘use by' is there for your safety. If the date which is shown on the label has passed then the food is unsafe to eat, and you should, therefore, dispose of it.

Foods that include ‘use by' dates will include meat and dairy products such as yoghurt, cheeses and milk.

If you are not going to consume the food before it's a use-by date, then it's worthwhile checking whether you can freeze it. This will reduce food waste and save you money at the supermarket.

What Does Display Until Mean?

Another common food labelling terminology you might find is ‘display until'.

This doesn't concern the consume and instead should be taken notice of by the staff working in the shop in which the product is being sold.

Products that have a display until label will also have another label that will include either a best before date or a use-by date.

What Does Nutritional Information Mean?

By law, food and drink products sold in the EU are required to provide nutritional information.

This food labelling terminology will be followed by a list of the following (at a minimum) per 100g or 100ml of the food;

Energy (in kJ and kcal)
Fat (in g)
Saturates (in g)
Carbohydrate (in g)
Sugars (in g)
Protein (in g)
Salt (in g)

Plus the amount of any nutrient for which a claim has been made You may also see the label state amounts ‘per serving' or ‘per portion'.

It's important to check what the manufacturer of the product determines as a serving or portion before referencing this nutritional information.

However, this product labelling terminology will always be in addition to the 100g or 100ml breakdown.

What Does ‘Light' Mean?

You may often find food labelling terminology to include words such as ‘light', ‘lighter' or ‘lite'.

These words are only used if the food contains at least 30% less of at least one typical value such as calories or fat.

To comply with EU regulations the label must explain exactly what has been reduced and by how much, for example, “Light: 50% less fat'.

What Does Organic Mean?

You may find the term ‘organic' used on some products and products label. This term can only be applied to products in which 95% or more of the ingredients are organic.

Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.

Many people believe that organic food has a higher nutrient content and is kinder to the environment and livestock.

This has seen improved demand for organic produce over the past decade which has seen prices rise significantly.

Supermarket Reduced Times

Different supermarkets have different rules when it comes to reducing food.


Tesco for example, begins the markdown process the day before the items best before date.

So, if an item has a best before date of the 24th April, they'll begin the markdown process on the 23rd April.

They'll begin with a markdown of around 20%. Personally, unless I'm planning on eating that specific item for dinner that night I won't purchase the item then. Instead, I'll wait for better discounts.

On the date of the best before date, Tesco will collect the items together and put them in one or two central locations based on the items type; bakery, fresh etc.

They'll be reduced between the hour of 10am and 2pm to around 50% off the RRP of the item.

Before finally being reduced to 90% off RRP at around 7pm.

Each store is slightly different so be sure to check back to your store to find the correct time.


Asda has a slightly different reduced food stratergy when compared to Tesco.

They don't begin marking down products the day before and instead only deposit the items into one central location on the best before or use by date.

When the items are in this central location they are often reduced by 25%.

They are then reduced by 90% off the RRP at around 6pm.

Again, each store is slightly different so be sure to repeatedly check back at your store to see when the specific time is.


Aldi only marks down products on the same date as the best before or use by date.

An instead of centrally locating these items into one area they leave them where the item is usually located.

So, for reduced mushrooms, you'll go to the mushroom area. Rather than a specific location in the store where all the reduced items are.

Items are reduced by 50% on the morning of the best before / use by date. This does not increase throughout the day.

Reduced Food Etiquette

If you know anything about yellow label shopping or reduced food shopping you will know that there are plenty of opinions on whether it is fair to other people and if it should be done.

While we shopped at our local supermarket trying to bag some bargains we picked up on the etiquette. I am not saying everyone has the same attitude but it is something worth keeping in mind.

Don't Be Greedy

While there are people in the world who are greedy, you don't have to be one of them.

Reduce your own waste and only buy what you need and will use, remember only buy what you can store too. Many people that shop in the reduced section are there to save money like you. There are a lot of products to buy, so you can even buy there your favourite Nespresso pods (by the way, buying Nespresso compatible capsules saves more money).


We have often been the closest to the action and been able to get the good stuff once it is marked down, however, if you already have 1 packet of sausages and you realise the person behind you wanted them but couldn't reach, pass them to them.

There have been many times we have swapped our deals with other shoppers so we have more variety in our basket.

Be Kind

Not everyone will be kind and you will be stunned that some people can be aggressive or plain rude but don't lower yourself to that level.

Be nice to the staff as they often don't like doing the job, the nicer you are to them the nicer they are going to be to you.

If they are really nice they will even give you hints and maybe try to get you a good deal on your food.

Bonus Tip: If you're embarrassed by the reduced food stickers or low-cost packaging on your items consider this hack from the top Money Saving Blog.


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