How to Save Money on Food without creating a Health Risk
I know it’s tempting to take advantage of “bog-offs” (buy one get one free) or other enticing offers, but sometimes you need to think about whether you can actually eat the food in time. Can you get through three packets of ham before the use-by date expires?
Unless there is a really long shelf-life on the food, or you have a big hungry family, then think twice – there is nothing worse than packets of food going off in the fridge and making you feel guilty, and then there is the temptation to eat them when they are out of date. You could always share the offers with a friend.
Dangers of out of date food
Bacteria such as Listeria can be present on ready-to-eat foods and will grow slowly in the fridge – the longer they are in the fridge, the more they grow, and the warmer the fridge, the faster they grow. In the freezer they are suspended – they usually survive but don’t grow (until you defrost the food). So it’s best to follow the manufacturers’ use-by dates to ensure that your food is safe.
This is particularly important if you, or anyone in your family is in a vulnerable group – very young, over 60, pregnant or otherwise ill or immune-compromised. This group is more likely to get food poisoning symptoms, and can be severely affected by it. For example, Listeria can kill, and cause miscarriage in pregnant women.
If you have too much food….
If you realise you have over-loaded your fridge and won’t get through the food, then you could freeze many items so long as they are still in date. For example, I have frozen milk, cream, ham (used it for pizza), grated cheese, olives (use for pasta sauce), pureed tomatoes, chopped up garlic and ginger (for curry), chicken, duck and meat. Pizzas can go in whole (or half ones if you only eat half at a time).
Egg white freezes well, as does egg yolk. Many ready meals can be frozen as can sausages and burgers. I would write the date of freezing on the pack – in my household if we don’t tell everyone it has been frozen then it get’s thrown away whilst defrosting as people think it is out of date!
Defrost according to instructions on the pack – some foods say on the label about freezing and defrosting. Otherwise, defrost in the fridge on the lowest shelf on a tray or dish to catch any drip.