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Tips and recipes for using up food - share with Sainsbury’s - Chance to win £300! NOW CLOSED

(275 Posts)
EllieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 27-Feb-18 09:51:34

‘Best before’, ‘use by’, ‘display until’…many of us are confused about what the dates on food labels really mean, and whether it’s safe to eat food that has passed the deadline. Sainsbury’s is on a mission to get to the bottom of this confusion and bust the myth that you can’t use food past its ‘best before’ date, therefore they would love you to share your top tips and recipes for using up food which has passed its ‘best before’ deadline.

Here’s what Sainsbury’s has to say: “We know that there is a lot of confusion between ’best before’ and ’use by’ dates, which is why are working with Mumsnet to dispel the myths about food date labels and to stop food from being thrown away that is still good to eat. After we found out through a previous Mumsnet thread that many of you throw away food that is past its ‘best before’ date, we created the below video to encourage people to rethink and make sure their food doesn’t end up in the bin”

Do you use the smell test on food that’s passed it’s ‘best before’ date and if it smells fine do you think it’s then it’s ok to be eaten? Have you got any easy recipes that are your go-to’s for using up food? Or maybe there are certain foods which you know will be fine past their ‘best before’?

Take a look at the video and share with us your top tips and recipes for using food which has gone past its ‘best before’ dates to be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 Sainsbury’s voucher.

Thanks and good luck!

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AveAtqueVale Tue 27-Feb-18 10:43:55

I eat almost everything past its best before, and passed its use-by, as long as it looks and smells ok. For some reason I’m funny with pork and chicken, and won’t touch those even a day late, but have been known to cook mince a couple of days after, and eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurts are eaten until they don’t look or smell right, which can sometimes be ages past their best before. I’ve never made myself (or anyone else) ill, so intend to continue with this!

Royalsteph Tue 27-Feb-18 11:02:21

I cook using a lot of food that is past it's best before date, as we are a large ish family we try and buy as much yellow sticker food as possible. Meat gets frozen as soon as we buy it, then planned into the recipes throughout the following week. Fruit gone past it's best is chopped up and served in a fruit salad for dessert with jelly/ice cream. Vegetables are cooked off and put into a pasta dish with tinned tomatoes and garlic. This is then served up for tea and any leftovers put in packed lunch boxes or frozen.

mrsBeverleyGoldberg Tue 27-Feb-18 11:25:26

I always stick to use by dates, especially minced meat as it's slightly heated by the mincing process. Unopened best buy I still use. I'm currently eating oats that are a year past their date that I bought at a shop specialising in unopened produce at or past their best by dates. I'm concerned about food waste.

PickAChew Tue 27-Feb-18 11:26:31

I tend to use best before dates as a guide. Some things stay nice for much longer, eg eggs and, sometimes, bread, while others need eating as quickly as possible, despite the best before date being some way away - particularly fruit and veg, which some shops seem to be better at storing than others. I'm thinking of the times like when I've pulled all the leaves off a cauliflower, only to find it distinctly mildewy or even furry, underneath, in which case I end up grabbing the peas out of the freezer, instead!

MakeTeaNotWar Tue 27-Feb-18 11:38:49

I mostly ignore these dates and use my nose and eyes to judge. We haven't been sick yet. Sad, soft looking vegetables are made into soup.

TeddyIsaHe Tue 27-Feb-18 11:49:03

For sad looking root veg I grate it all, squeeze out excess moisture then mix it up with a large tablespoon of melted butter and seasoning. Shape into round patties and pan-fry. Makes the most amazing rostis! I serve with ham/avocado/poached eggs/roasted tomatoes, whatever I’ve got in.

Cheese that’s getting dry/mouldy I cut off any grotty bits and make into batches of cheese sauce and freeze. Handy to have when needing a quick meal and no energy to make a roux.

Green veg - pick/cut off any bits that have gone too far, chop into small pieces and pan-fry on a highish heat. I use this mixture in omelettes, wraps, in pasta sauce or macaroni cheese. Cooking them seems to give them a couple more days.

I’m very casual about best before and sell by dates, I have a chronic hatred of wasted food so I do try and use everything up rather than throwing. Food that has a short shelf life will be portioned up and frozen, or cooked into something and that frozen. I don’t have lots of excess money, so throwing food away means I might as well just chuck a fiver in the bin.

CMOTDibbler Tue 27-Feb-18 12:21:53

For sad veg, it goes in soup or curry (I've just had a 5 veg lentil dahl made with courgettes, carrots, mushrooms, and spinach which were all past dates and their best plus some frozen edamame of which there wasn't a full portion left). Fruit will be trimmed or stewed/made into a crumble/become fruit salad.

sharond101 Tue 27-Feb-18 12:44:03

I freeze anything freezeable as soon as possible but for perishables it depends on how it appears how I'll use it. Peppers for instance usually go in a salad here but if they are softening I'll stir fry with them or chop and freeze for later.

Imgettingcheesefries Tue 27-Feb-18 13:45:38

I slightly ignore the best before/use by dates, if it looks and smells okay I'll use it. Except chicken, I don't even like to eat chicken on the date it runs out and definitely wouldn't after that day. If I've got veg that's starting to go soft I'll add it into pasta dishes/stir fry or make soup etc to try and get it used up. I'm trying to cut down down on the amount of food we throw away because it's quite a lot

ErinSophia Tue 27-Feb-18 13:51:02

I don't pay too much attention to dates on food, I use food if it looks and smells okay even if it's passed the use by/best before date.

asuwere Tue 27-Feb-18 14:11:00

I don't worry about 'best before' dates, I always go by smell/look/taste. I'm a bit more cautious with 'use by' on fresh meat but again, I do use my judgement by smell/look.
I tend to freeze anything that might not get used in time. I'll prepare fruit and veg before freezing so it's easy to chuck in a pudding/soup/stew.

JumpingFrogs Tue 27-Feb-18 14:14:41

I will eat anything past its best before/use by dates as long as it looks and smells OK. I slice up over ripe bananas and freeze the slices. They can be eaten straight from the freezer and taste like ice cream ! I also put an over ripe banana into the blender with orange juice, maybe a dollop of yogurt (often past its use-by date!) and a few squishy strawberries or raspberries, to make a delicious smoothie. I freeze strawberries and raspberries that are squishy and then add a few to porridge before heating in the microwave. Give it a brisk stir and you have a beautiful rasberry flavoured porridge. I also slice up lemons or limes that are past it, and add the frozen slices to a gin and tonic. I chop and freeze slightly sad looking parsley and coriander and then stir into dishes just before serving. I always freeze cooked leftover veg. I have a bag in the freezer that I add them too, and will occasionally make a soup or casserole into which I chuck all the frozen veg. If I have bacon or ham that has reached its use-by date I chop it and freeze it to add to pasta dishes. I cook for a family of six and have never known any of us to be ill from eating out of date food !

SpiceRack Tue 27-Feb-18 14:37:53

I will always use food past it's " best before " as there's no health risks to those products, it's usually bread and cupboard produce that have that. Dairy and meat products that have " use by " I will use if they smell okay. I try to store most things ( bread/milk/chicken) in the freezer but often it's a pain to defrost stuff when you're in a rush.

My recipes/tricks include:
- smoothies with fruit that's going off
- banana bread with bananas that are slightly off ( I use the BBC Good Food recipe )
- Bread rolls or bread that's gone a bit hard i sprinkle some water on and place in microwave with a kitchen towel over it and they go back to being soft
- I LOVE carrot and coriander soup for carrots that are a bit off ( I use the Delia recipe for this )

SpiceRack Tue 27-Feb-18 14:40:12

JumpingFrogs love the idea of freezing the herbs and then adding them to meals. I can never seem to keep my parsley and coriander plants alive so that's a great idea

Millionairesshortbread1 Tue 27-Feb-18 15:16:43

I’m a sniffer if it smells alright it’s usually on to eat. I make soup and stews from out of date food then freeze into portions for quick dinners before the gym or kids clubs, it’s a bit pot luck however as I don’t label anything, son loved it when he got a pudding instead of a dinner.

del2929 Tue 27-Feb-18 16:27:23

if it smells fine and looks fine then its fine to eat.

i try to freeze things that can be frozen

WonderLime Tue 27-Feb-18 16:35:45

I only chuck something out if it doesn't look/smelly right, never because of the best before or use by dates. If I don't think I'll get the chance to use something before it goes off, I put it straight into the freezer. If something is still okay but not as nice looking as I'd like (like vegetables), I make stock. Fruit going soft gets baked into a cake.

ButterflyOfFreedom Tue 27-Feb-18 16:47:59

I generally adhere to use by dates but don't worry too much about best before dates.
I freeze quite a bit of food so know it'll keep longer any way.
You can usually tell if a food is off by smelling it especially if it's something like milk or yogurt.

queenoftheschoolrun Tue 27-Feb-18 17:08:45

Make soup with veg and smoothies with fruit. If we're not going to eat meat by best before date I freeze it for a later date.

Babycarmen Tue 27-Feb-18 17:12:44

If i have bananas that have gone brown/Black I always make banana bread. They are perfect when they are a bit ‘past it’.

cheekychicken24 Tue 27-Feb-18 18:28:36

Common sense is the key! We've had a risotto for dinner tonight with out of date parmesan on it, and lunch was a 'use up what's in the fridge' omelette! It had peppers, mushrooms and onion in it. All of them were past their best before date, and I had to cut a couple of soft bits off the peppers, but they tasted fine! You can't tell how old and wrinkly a mushroom was once it's been cooked!

DerelictWreck Tue 27-Feb-18 18:30:34

I never stick to dates - what can labels tell me that my senses can't?! There's way too much wasted food in this country; bad for the environment and for our bank balances!

I was always brought up to eat this way, and yes sure I'm more careful with things like raw meat, but most stuff is absolutely fine. Take eggs for example - eat them well past their best before date (and never store in the fridge!). Dairy products are usually pretty obvious with a good sniff or taste, and you can tell with dried goods by their texture (soggy crisps aren't great!).

In terms of eating up close too products, it's about ignoring convention. Why can't stir-fry veg go in pasta, or why can't we eat chicken for breakfast?! Just experiment and go from there!

Falconhoof1 Tue 27-Feb-18 18:35:55

I'm happy to use anything a day or two over its use by date. Just make sure meat is cooked through.

cannotmakemymindup Tue 27-Feb-18 18:57:17

Using bread as an example, I put the crusts/dried out bread in the freezer. Save it up until I have enough for a bread and butter pudding! Just defrost and make like usual. Often using eggs past best before to, just using the water test to double check they're still okay.

Fruits like strawberries get frozen, then turned into jam. Or put in a baked cheesecake. Or made into coulis.

I do this alot with foods past best before as in, use them. I don't really realise the date of foods with best before tbh.

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