Food safety on a budget

money coins
'Food safety on a budget' was the theme for Food Safety Week 2012. It promoted the importance of good food hygiene in the home, and focused on how people can ensure that they keep their food safe when trying to save money.


We developed a new communications toolkit containing key messages, ideas for running events in your local area and a list of resources. We have also produced a leaflet and poster on the theme of 'Your fridge is your friend' that give advice on food safety while shopping on a budget.

These resources can be downloaded below or ordered free from Food Standards Agency Publications. Telephone 0845 606 0667 or email

General Food Safety Week resources, including leaflets and posters, can be downloaded from the Food Safety Week resources page or ordered from Food Standards Agency Publications.

Top tips for food safety on a budget

During Food Safety Week we reminded people of the following food safety advice.

Understanding ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates

  • ‘Use by’ dates appear on foods that go off quickly. It can be dangerous to eat food past this date, even though it might look and smell fine. But if cooked or frozen its life can be extended beyond the 'use by' date.
  • Check the ‘use by’ dates on the food in your fridge on a regular basis and be sure to use (eat, cook or freeze) food before its ‘use by’ to help you avoid throwing food away unnecessarily.
  • Once food with a ‘use by’ date has been opened, follow any storage instructions such as ‘eat within 3 days of opening’.
  • ‘Best before’ dates appear on food with a longer shelf life. They show how long the food will be at its best quality. Using food after the ‘best before’ doesn’t mean it will be unsafe. The exception to this is eggs, providing they are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date.

Use leftovers safely
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 up within two days.
  • If you are going to freeze them, 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.
  • Make sure you defrost leftovers properly before reheating. Defrost them in the fridge over night, or in the microwave if you intend to cook them straightaway. 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

  • 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! Impulse buys can be expensive and, if not part of your plans, could lead to something else being wasted.
  • If you do 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.

Food Safety Week supporters

Food Safety Week was supported by the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign.

Emma Marsh, Community Partnership Manager at Love Food Hate Waste, commented: ‘The Love Food Hate Waste initiative is delighted to be supporting this year’s Food Safety Week. Making the most of our leftovers and understanding ‘use by’ dates, are not only key food safety issues but are also vital in reducing food waste. We hope that this will provide environmental health teams with the opportunity to work collaboratively with waste officers to communicate this important advice to local residents during Food Safety Week’.

Also supporting Food Safety Week, Bill Gray from Community Food and Health (Scotland) said: ‘I think this year’s theme for Food Safety Week is very appropriate given both the economic circumstances and the ongoing anti-waste campaigns. The key notion is that waste should be avoided and budgets helped to go a bit further but not at the expense of you or your families health. I have no doubt this year’s theme will appeal to many community groups and voluntary organisations’.

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