Ultimate Guide To Reduced Food Shopping

If you are anything like me then you love saving money where you can and food shopping should be no exception. However, apart from the meal planning and buying the cheaper brands over the fancier brands, what else can you do?

You can buy reduced food – and I am here to tell you how.

What Is Reduced Food

Reduced food is the food within a supermarket that is going out of date or display date that day, it can’t be sold at a full price so it is reduced throughout the day until it has gone or it is thrown away.

Each supermarket does it in a different way but all generally have a section with the aisles for the food. Some will keep the meat and fridge separate from the fruit and veg section.

Some supermarkets have now started to give the leftover food to the Real Junk Food Project, where many people can go to the warehouse and pay as they feel for the food they are getting.

Supermarket Reduced Times

This is a guide and should be taken as such. The times change for each supermarket and individual store.

I will note that we found that some stores vary in that places such as M&S Food generally mark down an hour or so before closing.

Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys however are more likely to slowly reduced food throughout the day before cutting the prices right down at the end of 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.


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.

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.

I hope you found my guide to reduced food shopping helpful. If you have any tips or tricks to bagging the bargains let me know in the comments.

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