The difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates
Foods that have a ‘use-by‘ date should be eaten or frozen before the end of the date shown. You shouldn't eat them after this date.
A ‘best before’ date is simply an indication of when a food is at its best and foods can still be consumed after this date - although the quality may not be as good as it once was. Most food banks will take also take expired food up to 6 months past its best before date. [ read more about food donations here ]
The best way to store your food
- Bread – wrap in paper or plastic and store in a bread tin.
- Eggs – store them in their original carton: it keeps them safe, slows moisture loss and it means you won't lose track of date on the carton.
- Flour – transfer it into an airtight container. This will help prevent nasty weevils making your flour their home.
- Butter & cheese - keep it in the main part of your fridge in an airtight container.
- Meat & seafood - this will keep for longer in a fridge chiller compartment if you have one as it's designed specifically for colder temperatures. If you don’t have a chiller compartment store at the back of your fridge or freeze items until needed.
- Bananas – separate the bananas at the stem and keep apart from other fruits as they can speed up the ripening process.
- Apples - apples will last longer if you store them in the fridge in a plastic bag as this helps retain moistness and stops them shrivelling.
- Celery & broccoli - wrap in aluminium foil and store in the fridge – it will stay fresh for weeks!
- Potatoes - store in a cool, dry and dark location. This will prevent them turning green and sprouting.
- Mushrooms – store in a paper bag and out of the fridge.
- Herbs – treat them like flowers and store in a cup or jar with the stems in water
- Tomatoes – store in the pantry as the fridge can cause them to lose flavour and nutrients.
Don’t wash fruit and vegetables until just before you are eating them. By adding moisture to the produce, you are speeding up the ageing process.
And remember buying in bulk isn’t cheaper if half of it ends up in the bin. Buy only what you can realistically use before it expires.
Don’t throw away those leftovers
- Love daily smoothies? Chop and divide any left-over fruit and veg and freeze in individual bags to make ‘smoothie packs’. Just tip the bagful in the blender, add your liquid and blend!
- Freeze leftover cooked pasta in single-serve portions in zip-lock bags. To heat, just tip into a bowl, cover with boiling water and wait a minute or two before draining. Great for last-minute meals.
- Freeze leftover egg whites or yolks in ice-cube trays. Stabilise yolks by beating well and adding a pinch of salt. Freeze egg whites as they are. When frozen transfer to a ziplock bag.
- If you have any bread that has gone stale, pop it in the food processor to make breadcrumbs for future recipes and then freeze.
- Turn overripe tomatoes into home-made tomato sauce for pasta
- Save veg tops and peels for making vegetable stock – you can freeze them until you are ready use them.
- Chop up any herbs, chillies or garlic and freeze for use later.