FOOD EXPIRATION DATES ARE OFTEN OVERLOOKED BY CONSUMERS
I don’t know about you but I don’t often see people examine the expiration date on every product they put into their shopping cart.
In fact, most people don’t even look at what they buy until they get home which is when they notice any errors or problems.
What is an expiration date?
The expiration date is also called many names as described below but they all mean the same thing.
- Expiry Date
- Best Before Date
- Use By Date
- Exp Date
The expiry date is simply a timeline as to when the product needs to be moved off the shelf more so than consumed.
Manufacturers always add a best before date that is at least a week before it’s time where you need to just throw it out.
Likely they trust that the grocery store has quality, fresh products that fall within a certain expiration date for consumer, especially if they are paying the premium price.
When you hand over the money you expect the best in return for what you are purchasing.
I also know some people who wouldn’t dare put a product in their grocery cart without looking for the expiration date.
These types of consumers won’t pay full price for something that will expire in a couple of days.
Many consumers won’t even dare buy products close or on the expiration date no matter what the price.
Who buys products that fall on the expiration date?
Lots of people understand that the product is still good and that it will save them money.
The reality is that some products that have food expiration dates outlive that code as I mentioned above.
I’m sure the manufacturer creates it that way to give themselves room to pick products from the shelves before they go off and the customer sees it.
Products With No Expiration Date
Not every product has an expiration date either because I can’t tell you the shelf life of rice nor an expiration date cannot be found on a huge bag we have.
This is likely because the shelf life is over 90 days so an expiration date is not needed.
The best before date by code can be anywhere on the package but be aware that if it is close to date you may lose some of that nutritional value but you can still purchase it.
Expiration Date And Product Safety
The best before date also has nothing to do with “product safety” so be aware of that.
According to a must-read post about date labelling on pre-packaged food by the Canada Food Inspection Agency …
“Best before” dates must appear on pre-packaged foods that will keep fresh for 90 days or less.
Foods with an anticipated shelf life greater than 90 days are not required to be labelled with a “best before” date or storage information.
- After the expiry date, the food may not have the same nutrient content declared on the label.
- Food should not be eaten if the expiration date has passed. They should be discarded.
Food expiration guidelines are probably something that is imperative to any grocery store and they must adhere to them.
Even the grocery store knows that and likely why you see those pink 50% off stickers as well as any reduced stickers just so they can move the product out the door and fast.
As far as I’m aware grocery stores cannot sell a product that is expired not even at a discounted price, at least that’s what one manager told me.
You will even see reduced products on pet food although I’d likely not purchase near expired dog food or other pet food because we simply don’t know if it’s good or not although any vet would steer you away.
I wouldn’t bother trying to donate expired food either because most places simply won’t accept it.
There’s a difference between near expiry and expired so keep that in mind when purchasing products and donating them.
Product Loss Due To Expiration Date
The grocery store doesn’t want to lose money by having to throw the food in the dumpster or sending it off to the farmers for feed if they don’t have to.
Dumpster diving for food does happen in Canada even though you can’t go on private property that still doesn’t stop some people.
Although I’d never do it these people know most of the food is still good to eat according to the expiration date and it’s a shame that it has to get thrown away.
What’s better than reduced to them is Free… and if they can get it, they will.
Whether the stores recoup a percentage of the loss I don’t know as it depends on the product and the supplier.
What I do know is they likely would make more money if the customer purchased the near-expired product at a discounted price.
What To Look For When Searching For Expiration Date
We’ve bought reduced items close to the expiration date on many occasions without issue.
It got to the point where we knew what products would get reduced there and was no way we’d pay full-price let alone sale price when we knew we could get it for dirt cheap.
A good example of that is dairy, meat, bakery and produce which we always look for at a reduced cost if we can.
Yogurt seems to be one of the easiest products along with organic dairy products that are often selling at a deep discount before the expiration date.
We’ve bought yogurt with a pink sticker that has lasted us a further 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
When Zellers was open back a few years ago they had a frozen food and dairy section but it didn’t sell well.
The amount of discounted food we picked up out of there was insane and draws us back often.
You could almost count on going in daily to find milk, cream, cheese and yogurt with a huge discount just because of the expiry date.
We can honestly say we’ve never had any problems with a reduced product before and if we could freeze it, we would.
Expiration Date On Bread
Bread is another item we hardly if ever buy full price or sale price because some of the grocery stores have bread on a reduced rack on a daily basis such as the Loblaws stores.
There’s nothing wrong with the bread except it’s close to an expiration date and we freeze it.
We’ve never had a problem with reduced bread either although I’ve started to make my own bread here and there.
There was a time when paying $0.25 a loaf after sale price, discount and coupon which was great for stockpiling.
Now we range in the $1.00 plus for discounted bread items on the reduced rack.
We’ve talked about blow out sales and that’s another reason you may see that tag because the expiration date is near and the price is so low it’s hard to resist.
Ask For Discounted Price Help
A fan was telling me the other day that she wanted to make banana bread but the bananas at the grocery store weren’t yellow enough.
I always say if you don’t ask you won’t know so don’t be shy to ask the produce clerk if they have any ripe bananas in the back for a discounted price.
Normally they always do and you can score a great deal, just like anything on the reduced produce racks.
You won’t find an expiration date on unpackaged fruits and vegetables rather you know visually and from touching the product how much life it might have left.
My father in law whose parents owned a farm in the 50 and ’60s said any of the rotten fruits and vegetables would go to the farm animals because no one would buy them.
He said there used to be fruit that would fall from the tree that would have a bruise but nothing would be wrong with them.
He would use his knife to cut out the bruise but the product was perfect. These days people will raid the reduced rack to grab a deal.
Eating Healthy On A Budget
Some people base their weekly meal plan around what’s on the reduced rack, discounted products on shelves and in bunkers.
We are known to grocery shop like this even when we go with a meal plan and list in hand.
It’s easy to make changes to meals as you shop based on the in-store unadvertised deals that you find.
I’m not afraid to buy something that is close to the expiration date or reduced in price depending on the product.
Most often you may only find one bad item in the bag and the rest are perfectly fine. Apples come to mind.
Food Waste Is A BIG Deal
Food waste in Canada is a big deal and we know that it happens at every grocery store, restaurant and in our own homes.
Why splash out your dollars on food that is perfectly fine if you can clean it, chop it, freeze it or cook it up for a fraction of the cost?
Do the expiration dates matter to us?
Sure because without them we wouldn’t know if we can ask for a further deal or how much life there potentially might be in the product.
The reality is they are there for a reason.
If you are worried about buying a product close to the expiration date simply don’t buy it.
I don’t know any grocery store that wouldn’t refund your money and we haven’t had any issues with products that we have bought close to the expiry date in terms of our health or being inedible.
Everyone has their own reasons why they wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a product that was close to the expiration date and others why they wouldn’t bother.
The fact of the matter is money is tight for many Canadians and the grocery budget is a great place to try to save some of that money if you can.
Spend What You Can Afford Even If You Can Afford More
Living below your means may be the untold secret to some but many millionaires live and swear by spending only what you can afford to lose.
Our dentist who has owned his practice for over 25 years old my wife once that even though he’s a millionaire he still shops at Food Basics and Wal-Mart and looks for deals.
Smart guy, sure and it’s true we’ve bumped into him many times.
Hard work is a given but spending your money wisely and in a way that compliments your lifestyle is important to financial health.
It doesn’t mean you have to compromise on nutrition it simply means keeping your eyes open for food deals that will save you cash.
It also means finding ways to save money so you can afford to spend a bit more on the items that never go on sale.
Discussion: Do expiration dates on products matter to you and why?
February grocery game challenge posts
If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you.
- Do you stockpile food before a snowstorm? – #1 February 3-9, 2014
- How a sale flyer can be confusing- #2 February 10-16, 2014
Grocery saving tips
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.
I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the saving process in your grocery budget today.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.
CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet for FREE.
NEW!! You can now download the Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel.
Ultimate grocery shopping guide
Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly.
If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email and let me know.
Food food and more food
Shoppers Drug Mart
- 4 x 4L Milk $3.97
Total out of pocket $15.88
- 2 x Harvest Crunch cereal Sale $1.99- $0.50 coupons
- 1 x Romaine lettuce $0.99
Total out of pocket $ 3.97
Yearly grocery budget for two: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $20 per month.)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with potentially one no-shop week per month or $58.75 for 4 weeks per month. (During the months with 5 weeks we just make it work)
- Total Budget for February $235.00-$7.66 overspend in January =$227.34
- Total Coupons Used this Week: $1.00
- Total Coupons Used to date: $22.25
- Total Discounts this Week: $3.80
- Total Discounts Used to date: $5.54
- Total Gift Cards Used to date: $33.18
- Total Rewards Points Used: $0
- Total Rewards Points Used to date: $0
- Stockpile Budget ($20.00): $0
- Stockpile Budget Used to Date: $20.00
- Total Spent This Week: $19.85
- Total Spent So Far February: $7.66 over budget January+$25.97+$80.04+$19.85
- Total Over/Under spend this shop: $0
- Total Over/Under spend for the month: $0
- Total Left to Spend for the Month: $227.34-$25.97-$80.04+$19.85=$133.52
- Total to Carry Over Next Month: $0
- Total Spent To Date This Year: Jan $242.66 (does not include stockpile budget)
We didn’t need much this week although we’ve been going through lots of milk lately and cereal.
So you see a big increase in our milk consumption. Maybe it’s just the winter cereal blahs… lol.
Canadian Coupons Found
If you want to know the specifics of any of the following coupons as they are hard to read simply email me or leave a comment and I’ll let you know as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.
- Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?
No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
- When does the Grocery Game Close each month?
The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month. You can post your shops all month-long.
- Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?
Yes, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc.
We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more.
It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.
- Where can I find Canadian Coupons?
- What is an FPC?
An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
You can find all your store coupon policies here. If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us.
There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that.
You may also substitute items in order to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget as many people do.
This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track.
If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2014 get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving.
Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general.
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge Canada 2014!
Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?
- Follow Me on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest
- Don’t forget to Subscribe to Canadian Budget Binder by Email to get my daily email. Once you subscribe you MUST VERIFY your email account so check your spam folder and inbox for that email!
- Check out my new Free Recipe Index
- If you like FREE then click this link for my FREE Excel Budget Spreadsheet and all my Free Money Saving Lists!