Approved Food order review

Approved Food order review May 2016

I’m reviewing my latest Approved Food order for you today. If you haven’t used them before, they are best known as the online shop that sells foods that are past their ‘best before’ date, although they sell lots of other items too.

For starters I need to mention that ‘best before’ dates only actually serve as a recommendation on food packaging and what you really need to worry about are the ‘use by’ dates. Any edibles sold at Approved Food have their best before dates clearly marked on their listings, so it’s up to you whether you choose to buy things that are past that date or not, and it pays to keep in mind that many dried foods can be kept safely for years and years.

The range of stock at Approved Food includes:

  • Food that is past its best before date
  • Food that is close to its best before date
  • Overstocked foods that are completely in date
  • In date foods in slightly older packaging after a rebrand
  • Catering packs and cases of food
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Non-food items: toiletries, cleaning products etc

So, if you don’t feel like buying food past the best before date then you still have plenty of scope.¬†Personally, I’m perfectly happy to buy dried foods that are long past their best before date, so the first things I put in my online basket are usually dried pasta, rice, noodles, cous cous and grains when I’m shopping in their online store. Sometimes they also have dried beans and lentils, and wholegrain or gluten free pastas, but because of the nature of the business different things may be in stock each time you visit. My favourite dried food that I found this time was five packs of King Soba noodles for ¬£1.

I find that this is a good, cost-effective way of restocking a food cupboard, so that there’s always a base to make a few thrifty meals from. Generally, buying in bulk brings the prices down even further, so there’s plenty of food stocks in the house to last for months at a time after one order. It is a very effective way of getting the grocery bill as low as possible over an extended period of time, especially if you do a fair amount of cooking from scratch like I do.

While I don’t buy much convenience food from the supermarket, I will sometimes buy discounted things from Approved Food such as the occasional jar of pasta sauce, tins of mixed beans, fruit purees, flavoured rice or curry pouches, or taco kits. With the latter I open the boxes and freeze the tortillas as soon as they arrive, and keep any spice mixes, coatings or sauce bases in the cupboard – the extras usually have separate use-by dates on them and they’re often good for a whole year ahead or even longer. These convenience foods are usually pressed into service on those evenings when we’re short of time or get home later than expected, and they can still be part of a healthy diet if you keep an eye on things like salt levels and add a few veggies.

If you’re constantly keeping an eye on the bottom line of your food budget it’s very easy to end up buying the same foods again and again, and ending up with a monotonous diet. Having monotony in your food for long periods is generally pretty unhealthy, but in that situation it’s natural to become risk averse because mistakes come with an extra high opportunity-cost. My favourite thing about Approved Food is that there are all kinds of ingredients from all round the world, they’re far more affordable so I can afford to take risks and experiment, and there’s something new every time I visit. This has allowed me to buy all kinds of extras that perk up everyday meals and keep them fresh and interesting – everything from preserves, to curry pastes, to spice blends, to sauces and ketchups, to pickles and chutneys. It makes eating cheaply a whole lot more fun.

Occasionally something will arrive broken or something will be incorrectly substituted, but in my experience a quick email to their customer service team always means you’ll get a refund or credit towards your next order.

The other thing about the low prices is that there’s usually a little money left in the budget for a few treats. This is the only time I buy things like coconut water or chocolate caramel bars, for example. While it never makes up the bulk of my food shopping, I firmly believe that a bit of what you fancy does you good, especially if it’s reasonably priced.

Full disclosure: I have worked for Approved Food in the past, and bought this latest order using gifted store credit. All words and opinions my own, there has been no editorial interference.

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