New Study Finds People Are Buying Near-Expired Foods To Save Money

Everyone loves finding a bargain at the grocery store, especially with inflation causing higher grocery bills these days. Between sales, coupons, and buying store-brand products, there are a few ways to save at the store despite the rising costs.

There are several different dates printed on products, according to WebMD. Once foods are past their sell-by dates, they are still safe to eat but should be removed from shelves for sale. Eating foods past their "best if used by" date is still safe, but the flavor may not be top quality. Use-by dates generally mean that foods are still safe to eat after this date passes, but they should be eaten before it for the best quality. When it comes to expiration dates, products may not work the same if they are eaten too far past this date.

As products approach their best-by dates, stores will often reduce their prices in order to sell them rather than throwing them out after they've expired. According to a new study, shoppers are actively seeking out these cheaper foods in order to save some cash at the grocery store despite having a shorter time to eat them.

Save money with a shorter consumption window

According to Food Dive, half of the 2,000 surveyed consumers reported seeking out cheaper options for food when grocery shopping. Nearly half (46.7%, to be exact) of those surveyed reported that they have a set budget for grocery shopping that they try to stick to. In order to stick close to that set cost, consumers have made some changes in their shopping habits to adapt to rising prices.

Six out of 10 consumers also reported purchasing discounted foods that would expire quickly due to the low cost. Of those surveyed, 46% of respondents reported that they will continue to eat foods past the printed expiration date. And for some, that is a recent development — 16.6% just started doing so in the past six months. According to Consumer Reports, some foods — like grains and dried foods — can be used safely past their dates, but others — like meat and dairy — could be more dangerous. The site suggests keeping an eye out for signs that your food has gone bad, like mold or an altered smell or texture.