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New lifestyle- no use-by dates!
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# 1
louise83
Old 09-05-2005, 11:06 AM
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Question New lifestyle- no use-by dates!

Hello to all you Money Saving Experts.

I am new here, and my arrival coincides with a major life change. My boyfriend of over 10 years decided to leave in search of a more interesting life. As well as a near death blow to my self-esteem :rolleyes: this has been a bit of a blow to the old finances as well, since my income is around 21k (I'm a nurse!) and his was around 40k (IT- it's definitely the field to be in). We had a relatively small mortgage on the house (which I'm determined to keep on), but as you can imagine, I'm having to make some adjustments. Luckily, I am naturally a frugal person, but years of living on our fat combined income had eroded my frugal instincts. SO, I'm here to try and find my Moneysaving way again, and I have been reading all the wonderful threads for inspiration. You are a wonderful and very creative bunch of people and have helped to fill me with hope for a financially secure future, as well as reminding me of my environmental responsibilities. I have stopped buyng Tesco Finest ready-made food (embarrassed cough) and made some tentative attempts at learning to cook. My latest venture, and my most ambitious to date, is a pot of homemade carrot and coriander soup, which was amazingly cheap to make, and very edible. But what's this? There's no use-by date! Having lived on all shop-bought food, I'm used to having a use-by date on everything to tell me how long it will keep. I'm obsessive about use-by dates, can't bear to try tasting something that's past it's sell-by date even if it looks perfect.

My question therefore is how you know how long to keep homemade food for? I know this is appallingly ignorant of me, please forgive me!

Thank you,

Louise
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# 2
squeaky
Old 09-05-2005, 11:11 AM
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Hiya, welcome to MoneySaving

I have no idea how long to keep stuff in the fridge. I rarely plan to keep anything more than three days in there. For the longer term I freeze it straight away.

A lot depends on what the foodstuff is, how cold your fridge is set to be, how often you open the door in a day, how full it is...

..I'd bet there's as many answers as there are people.
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# 3
mightymo
Old 09-05-2005, 11:13 AM
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Hi Louise, and welcome!

I know what you mean about use by dates - I am exactly the same. We hardly ever (if ever) throw food away, I always try to use it before the use by date. But I constantly have my eye on what needs to be eaten next.

Regarding home made food, ie. soup & meals, we tend to eat them the same day as I make it. However we would eat something the next day but that is probably my limit! When I make cakes, these tend to be eaten within about three to four days and are OK, although sometimes a little dry by that time!

You could always freeze some of your homemade goodies...

Mo x
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# 4
Bargain Rzl
Old 09-05-2005, 11:14 AM
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Welcome to the board Louise! I'm sorry to hear about the breakup of your relationship.

The thing to remember is that a lot of the evil E numbers that shop-bought/processed food is full of, are preservatives. So good wholesome home-made food is bound to go off a lot quicker than what you're used to.

Most things will keep in the fridge for a few days - a cooked joint of meat can last for getting on for a week - but everything is different. That is what your freezer is for. If you cook in bulk and freeze extra portions/leftovers, be sure to let the food cool properly before it goes in the freezer or it will raise the temperature in the freezer, potentially causing bacterial problems for the food that's already in there.
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# 5
casper2004
Old 09-05-2005, 11:15 AM
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I made a pot of soup on friday and the last container is getting used tonight, its been in the fridge since then, could probably be ok for another day after that.

I prefer putting it in to indvidual containers at the start instead of going into the same bowl night after night, theres always the freezer too.

Regarding dates, I usually give the dates at least one if its milk or something like that but ifs its more like biscuits or dry produce until there are eaten.
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# 6
moggins
Old 09-05-2005, 11:18 AM
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I'd be no help then as I just use my eyes and nose, if it still looks good and smells good then I figure it's good to eat.

The best thing is that as there are no artificial preservatives in homemade food then as soon as the bugs arrive that would give you a tummy upset so do the visual signs too.
Organised people are just too lazy to look for things

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# 7
r.mac
Old 09-05-2005, 11:20 AM
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I agree with squeaky, I don't really understand the basic rules either, so I have made some up which I try and stick to. I think the main thing is that you feel comfortable and not worried about eating food that may have gone off. The best way around this is to meal plan. It takes a little while to get right, but is definately worth it.

Portion control is another tip and can also take a while to judge. I am getting better all the time, but still have some 'way off' moments.

my fridge/use-by date philosophy is as follows;
* keep foods in fridge ad freezer covered securely and labeled if any doubt may arise.
* if I kow I am not going to eat the leftovers the next night/meal, then I try and freeze them straight away, for another time.
* I usually give myself about three days max in the fridge before chucking something (but this depends on the ingredients. I am much stricter about meat and rice than I am about home made humous etc!)

hope this helps
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# 8
Galtizz
Old 09-05-2005, 11:28 AM
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Hi Louise and welcome to the boards. Firstly, sorry to hear about your ermm 'lifstyle change' Have a look at THIS thread which you might find useful for your self esteem, they're a friendly lot on the F + R board too. Well done for taking the first steps.

I couldn't cook properly either (I didn't know you couldn't count pouring Dolmio onto mince and cooking pasta as cooking ). It is something that gets better with practise. I find the recipes on here (have a look at the recipe sticky) invaliable because they are written in English (unlike some recipe books) they usually start with 'bung in a handful of this and that' and you can easily ask questions if it goes wrong so you know how to do it next time.

As for sell by dates, it depends what you are using and whether it is cooked or not but as a general rule of thumb unless it is pickled (i.e preserved in vinegar or lots of sugar) like jams or apple sauce or pickled onions etc. which will last longer most things will last about 3 days in the fridge.

What I usually do is have a menu plan (which I do for a fortnight) go out shopping and freeze all the meat that I am not going to use within the next couple of days then I get it out on the morning I am going to use it. If I have left overs that I am not going to use in the next couple of days I freeze that too (remembering to label it). For example, your soup, if you made 6 portions I would have eaten one, left 1 or 2 in the fridge and frozen the rest in portions in double freezer bags (which mould to fit into little spaces in the freezer if you have limited space, I freeze liquids in 2 so they don't leak). You can use tupperware, freezer bags, some pots (check first incase they crack), washed out plastic tubs that take-away chinese's come in (not that you will be having take-aways ) or you can buy foil trays from supermarkets.

Have a good read of the menu planning, freezing and grocery challenge threads and, as I've said before, take it one step at a time and if you've had a blow out on take-aways or CD's at the supermarket just put it down to experience and try to learn from it for next month. We all do it from time to time.

Good luck.

Sorry, been so long typing this other people have replied and I've repeated what they said.

P.s Another thought, if you have loads of left over veg that is starting to 'go' bung it in a pot and make soup (there is a recipe on the sticky). And have a look at the rubber chicken thread for making food (Sunday lunch) last longer.
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Last edited by Galtizz; 09-05-2005 at 11:31 AM.
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# 9
Queenie
Old 09-05-2005, 11:28 AM
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Welcome to MSE and especially Old Style

((sorry about your b/f))

The *real* trick to keeping/storing hm food is to have a menu plan which takes into account potential leftovers. Yes, you will now *plan* your leftovers LOL

As already stated, if you make a recipe which serves 4 and you're only going to be feeding yourself, use your freezer to freeze half and plan to eat the two remaining portions over the next 3-4days. Or, eat one portion and freeze the remaining 3 - if you use the 2nd option, you could spend each night of one week cooking ... and then the remaining 3 weeks eating the single frozen portions! Economical on fuel too

Meat/meat based I use up within 3 days if it's only kept in the fridge.

Don't panic though, nature is a wonderful thing .. as a general rule, perishable goods either LOOK off or SMELL off or FEEL off (ie soft, squidy )

Shopping: frozen veggies are just as nutrious as fresh, so you might want to keep a couple of bags of frozen as a back up.
It's a false economy to buy fresh goods if you are not going to use them up in the following few days. Only buy what you need unless you plan a cooking session where you can freeze the meals, or if you plan to blanche and freeze.
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# 10
Curry Queen
Old 09-05-2005, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moggins
I'd be no help then as I just use my eyes and nose, if it still looks good and smells good then I figure it's good to eat.

The best thing is that as there are no artificial preservatives in homemade food then as soon as the bugs arrive that would give you a tummy upset so do the visual signs too.

Hehehehe I use nose and eyes too, even on stuff that does have a use by label, and will often ignore it

If something is really pushing it's safety margin though I'll risk eating it myself but wouldn't give it to my son, but otherwise I tend to use the 3 day rule for HM food in the fridge. If I know I won't use it by then it goes straight into the freezer.
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# 11
Eliza252
Old 09-05-2005, 11:33 AM
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Hello! Learning to cook from scratch is great!
I have been building up my cooking skills since becoming am MSE'r and am pleased to say that I have gone from barely being able to toast a bagel to being able to whip up a roast dinner with home made cheese cake for dessert! now I love cooking and am v. popular as a result - not that I am that shallow or anything - hee hee!
- I split use by dates into high risk foods and low risk. stuff like meat/rice/eggs etc which could give you really, really nasty food poisoning I go by the book. Look at The Food Standards Agency website, they give good guidelines with respect to storage etc
- Low risk food, I think it is up to the individual - I have pretty low standards (ah, hem..) I keep milk to the very last minute, scrape mould off bread (yea I know I'm gross) - and pretty gestimate on everything else!
hope that helps!
nb. If I'm cooking for someone else I obviously exercise much higher standars!
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# 12
Queenie
Old 09-05-2005, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliza252
Look at The Food Standards Agency website, they give good guidelines with respect to storage
Good point! Heres the link: Keeping Food Safe, Storage
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# 13
lipidicman
Old 09-05-2005, 11:46 AM
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I have some green beans a fortnight past the use by date but they look OK to me - time to do some 'cast iron stomach' experiments - I dont think beans can do that much harm and I have had in-date ones that looked much worse!
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# 14
Debt_Free_Chick
Old 09-05-2005, 2:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bargain Rzl
The thing to remember is that a lot of the evil E numbers that shop-bought/processed food is full of, are preservatives. So good wholesome home-made food is bound to go off a lot quicker than what you're used to.
hhmmmm...... not so sure I agree. With home-made it's only as old as the day you made it. With shop-bought processed food, it could be weeks old already by the time you put it in the trolley. Remember, it was made, packaged, stored, delivered to the supermarket bulk warehouse, stored, delivered to the store and then finally on the shelf. The chain could have been much longer.

The ONLY reason processed food needs all the junk is to preserve it through the horrendously long chain involved in getting it to the shop.

I have to say that my experience is that home-made stuff lasts much longer than shop-bought.

Personally, I ignore use-by & sell-by dates and trust my eyes, nose & mouth. Look at it ... does it look OK? Soup, for example will start to ferment as an indication of bacterial infection. If it looks OK, smell it. If there is no odd smell then taste it - just a little. If it's infected, then it will taste sour or rancid.

I have 2 year old preserves here - home-made, of course. I opened some yesterday for an impromtu lunch and they were absolutely scrummy. And I'm still here, but I do feel odd .... oh-no, this post might be my last ever!

Seriously, don't place too much in the dates used by the manufacturers. Remember that they will err on the side of caution for fear of being sued!

Look, smell & taste will not let you down
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# 15
Queenie
Old 09-05-2005, 2:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Debt_Free_Chick
...... I have 2 year old preserves here - home-made, of course. I opened some yesterday for an impromtu lunch and they were absolutely scrummy. And I'm still here,
When I was a kid, I opened the jam to find it had grown a furry jacket, told my Mum who promptly took it out of my hands ...... she scraped the furry jacket off handed it back and said: "Waste not, want not! It'll be fine now."


I'm still here too - unless I've become a figment of my own imagination!? :confused:
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# 16
Big_Nige
Old 09-05-2005, 2:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curry_Queen
Hehehehe I use nose and eyes too, even on stuff that does have a use by label, and will often ignore it

If something is really pushing it's safety margin though I'll risk eating it myself but wouldn't give it to my son, but otherwise I tend to use the 3 day rule for HM food in the fridge. If I know I won't use it by then it goes straight into the freezer.
My mums lentil soup tasted even better on the second day....no side effects yet. Use by dates are for safety to protect the suppliers.. se your eyes & nose as well as reading the label.
Every day above ground is a good day.
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# 17
Curry Queen
Old 09-05-2005, 2:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Queenie
When I was a kid, I opened the jam to find it had grown a furry jacket, told my Mum who promptly took it out of my hands ...... she scraped the furry jacket off handed it back and said: "Waste not, want not! It'll be fine now."
I still do that even now

Mouldy cheese/bread ... no problem ... cut off the offending bit and enjoy!!!
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# 18
jaybee
Old 09-05-2005, 2:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Queenie
When I was a kid, I opened the jam to find it had grown a furry jacket, told my Mum who promptly took it out of my hands ...... she scraped the furry jacket off handed it back and said: "Waste not, want not! It'll be fine now."


I'm still here too - unless I've become a figment of my own imagination!? :confused:
Good on you, Queenie!!!! I was too shy to mention that one. I do it (with cheese) all the time and nobody has died yet.

Once I caught the cat licking the butter but just scraped the 'lick marks' off and nobody knew any better. I bet I've shocked everyone who doesn't like cats now!!!!!
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# 19
Sarahsaver
Old 09-05-2005, 2:28 PM
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if i know i will use it within a couple of days, leave it in the fridge
otherwise freeze it
HM cakes don't last long enough to go off
if its mouldy (vegetables) cut the manky bit off if poss. If you start to buy only what you need, that is plan a weekly menu you will have less wastage instead. My chickens layed eggs this morning and the !!!!!!s forgot to print the date on them LOL
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# 20
Queenie
Old 09-05-2005, 2:31 PM
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@ jay bee - our furbaby did that a few days after we adopted him into the family. I scrapped off the offending bits which fed it to the CAT!!! The family got the rest hidden in some Dundee Cake - should have burned off any bacteria methought

Another of my Mother's fav adages: "What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over!" (This after some par boiled spuds leapt out the pan onto the floor in a determined effort to avoid a good roasting!)

God, I miss her!!!

As for the cheese, yeppers, I admitted to that on the cheese thread too LOL Bread doesn't last long enough to grow a jacket.
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