Ignoring the best-before date on some items could save you thousands each year, new research has revealed.
While it seems sensible to pay attention to best before labels, you could accidentally be throwing out food that's perfectly good to eat, according to a food waste movement started in the UK.
Too Good To Go has urged shoppers not to rely on best-before dates and use-by labels in order to tell whether or not food is good enough to eat.
It also said consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of food per year – which on average costs households between $2000 to $2500 per year, Oz Harvest says.
But Too Good To Go, says that as long as an item looks, tastes and smells okay, you can probably use it past the best before date.
Common items that are safe to eat if they pass this three-step test include eggs, milk and cheese.
Frozen food, dried pasta and bread are also likely to remain edible after the best before date has passed.
What is a best-before date?
The best before date is related to quality and there is no harm in eating items that have gone past "best" if they have been stored correctly, like at the right fridge temperature.
This is different from the use-by date, which is very important in the safety of food.
You can eat the food right up to the use-by date but not after, according to Foods Standards Australia, New Zealand.
Even if it looks, smells and tastes okay, food after its use-by date can still contain unseen bacteria that can make you ill.
Many people don't understand the difference between the two labels.
"Reducing food waste is a win-win solution," Jamie Crummie, co-founder of Too Good To Go told The Sun.
"Not only do you reduce its harmful impact on the environment, but you save money in the process too.
"In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, reducing our food waste is a really simple and easy thing that everyone can do to reduce their food costs, all the while knowing you're doing something great for the planet too."
Which products can I eat past the best before date?
With food prices rising, household finances are under pressure for millions.
Official data says groceries have risen by 4.2 per cent between December 2019 and December 2021, excluding tobacco and alcohol.
That's a touch slower than overall consumer price inflation which has gone up 4.39 per cent in total over two years.
But overall, Australians and New Zealanders are reporting feeling like their grocery bills have gone up far, far more than the official figures.
Avoiding throwing out food that's still good could help you save some much-needed cash.
Of course, the exact amount you can save depends on how much you usually chuck out and which items you can rescue before they are binned.
Here's what you can eat after the best before date has passed, as long as you've kept it in the right conditions and it looks, smells and tastes okay.
Milk is the fifth most wasted food and drink product, after potatoes, bread, bananas and lettuce according to Aus Food News.
With the average cost of a litre of milk currently $1.72, that's millions of dollars down the drain too.
It's easy to tell if milk has gone off as it can go lumpy, smell funky, or taste sour.
If you store your bread in the fridge you can use it for up to two weeks past the best before date.
Bread that has gone a little hard will still be great for toast, Too Good To Go says.
Bread sold in long-life packaging like pittas can last for considerably longer too – potentially months.
Millions of eggs are thrown out every year.
Keep them in the fridge and this could increase usability by as much as three weeks after the best before date.
An easy test to see if an egg is good to eat is putting it in a bowl of water – if it sinks it's fine to eat, if it floats then it's not.
Hard cheeses like cheddar are perfectly good to eat after the best before date.
You can cut any surface mould off of hard cheeses and eat the rest safely if it's free from mould.
But this is not recommended for soft dairy products like goat's cheese.
According to Too Good To Go, spores from mould often pass through soft cheese quite quickly.
While the texture and taste of yoghurt may change as time goes on, the acidic nature of the product means bad bacteria are kept at bay almost indefinitely.
This is particularly true if the yoghurt is unopened, and has been stored correctly.
It means as long as it passes the look, smell and taste test you can eat it several weeks after the best before date.
We've all had cans of food lurking for too long in our cupboards at some point and the good news is that they're safe to eat years after the best before date.
That's because of the extremely high heat process products go through when being canned that kills bacteria and sterilises the contents.
When you leave food in the freezer the quality deteriorates over time, but it's still safe to use.
It's generally recommended to eat most freezer foods within three to six months if you want them at their best.
Dried pasta can last up to three years after the best before date.
You just need to make sure that it's been stored in an airtight container for that time.
White rice can last for years too if kept in an airtight container.
It can become stale as the starch naturally crystallises, but it's safe to eat.
But you want to look out for rice weevils, which can appear in flour too.
If you spot these, don't eat it – throw it away.
This only applies to white rice though, not brown, as it is refined and the preservatives keep it good for longer.
Unopened biscuits can be eaten weeks after the best before date and up to six months, according to Wrap.
Honey can last for a very long time, according to Too Good To Go, even when it crystallises.
It's safe to eat and there's a simple trick to get the consistency back – just place the jar or bottle into a bowl of boiling water.
This cooking essential will last years after the best before date if it's kept sealed.
That's because it contains a lot of salt, which acts as a preservative.
Vinegar is used as a preservative, to make other foods last longer like pickles and eggs.
So the condiment will last well past its best before date.
Sugar can last indefinitely, the food waste organisation says, just keep it in an airtight container.
Bicarbonate of soda
If you took up baking during lockdown but didn't take it up as a full-time hobby, you can still dig out and use up an old tub of bicarb.
It's safe to use years after the best before, though be warned that it can lose some of its power as a raising agent.
It's also still good to use as a cleaning agent around the house.