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How to eat safely on a budget

There are over a million cases of food poisoning each year, with 20,000 hospitalisations and 500 deaths. These cases have been estimated to cost the economy £1.5 billion each year. This page is to promote the importance of good food hygiene in the home, below you can find some helpful tips for saving money whilst making sure that good is still safe to eat.

Top tips to keep food safe and make your budget go further include:

  • Remember that ‘use by’ dates must not be ignored. It can be dangerous to eat food past this date, even though the food may look and smell fine. Some food can be preserved beyond this date by cooking or freezing.
  • ‘Best before’ dates on food indicate how long the food will be at its best quality. Using food after ‘best before’ dates doesn’t mean that it will be unsafe, with the exception of eggs, which can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date if they have been cooked thoroughly.
  • Eating leftovers can be a good way of making a meal go further. If you are going to store leftovers in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible (ideally within 90 minutes), cover them and eat them within two days. If you are going to freeze leftovers, cool them before putting them in your freezer. Once foods are in the freezer, they can be safely stored there forever – but the quality will deteriorate so it’s best to eat them within three months.
  • Defrost leftovers properly before reheating. Defrost them in the fridge overnight, or in the microwave if you intend to cook them straight away. Eat leftovers within 24 hours of defrosting and do not refreeze. The only exception is if you are defrosting raw food, such as meat or poultry: once it’s cooked it can be refrozen.
  • Cook leftovers until steaming hot throughout. Don’t reheat leftovers more than once.
  • Plan your meals, and avoid impulse buying. Before you go shopping check what’s in the fridge and freezer. Think about what you are going to eat that week and write it down. Make a list of what you need to buy and stick to it.
  • If you get tempted by special offers in the shop, like ‘buy one, get one free’, think about adjusting your meal planner for the week to add it in, or freeze the extra pack before the ‘use by’ date. Or you could cook larger portions and save some for another time. Label food before it goes in the freezer, so you know what it is and how long it’s been there.