The Co-op has made headlines after it announced it would be selling off food that's past its best before date for just 10p.

In a bid to cut food waste, stores in East Anglia will now sell edible food that has exceeded its best before date but is still perfectly safe to eat.

A spokesperson for the retailer told The Grocer that, during a trial of the scheme, the shelves of food costing as little as 10p were often empty within an hour.

He told the trade magazine: “This is not a money-making exercise, but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain.

“By selling perfectly edible food we can save 50,000 plus items every year that would otherwise have gone to waste.

“The vast majority of customers understand they are fine to eat.”

‘Best before’ indicates quality rather than health concerns, while ‘use by’ should be taken more seriously as that is about how long an item is safe to eat.

The £470 a year spent feeding the bin

These bargains could save customers in East Anglia some cash but they also highlight that many of us discard food that is still perfectly edible.

By assuming a product is bad simply because the best before date has past, we risk paying good money for food we never eat.

The average UK home spends £470 a year we spend on food that gets thrown away, according to the campaign organisation Wrap. For a household with children that rises to £700 a year on average.

And right now food inflation is through the roof. The price of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose at an annual rate of 4.1%, Office for National Statistics figures show.

That’s the highest since September 2013.

However, there are a few ways to beat the rises and reduce the overall cost of your grocery bill even if you can't buy 10p cans. Here's how.

[Read more: Sell-by and best before dates – what’s the difference?]

Plan a weekly menu

Sit down and work out exactly what you're going to cook for the next week so that you know what ingredients you will need.

Write a shopping list

Write up a shopping list based around your weekly menu and stick to it - don't be tempted to impulse buy and end up with a cupboard full of food you don't need.

How to save on groceries (Image: Shutterstock)

Shop when you're full!

An obvious one, but never shop on an empty stomach - you'll be far more tempted to buy things you don't need if you do.

Look out for special offers

Most supermarkets' websites will advertise special offers like ‘buy one get one free’ so you can find out what's available before stepping into the supermarket itself.

If the offer is on perishable goods, make sure you have space to freeze whatever you don't need immediately.

Check out the 'reduced to clear' shelf

Usually if you do your supermarket shop towards the end of the day, the discounts will be greater. Most supermarkets have a 'reduced to clear' food shelf, which is always worth a browse.

These items will have a shorter 'use by' date on them, so either eat them quickly, or freeze them if you can.

Buy in season

Try to buy vegetables that are in season. Check out the Eat The Seasons website to find out what's in season now.

Buy in bulk when you can

Bulk-buying food and drink can offer genuine savings, especially if you share out the produce among friends and neighbours.

Sacks of rice, for example, are extremely cheap from Asian grocers.

Avoid pre-packaged food

If possible, try to buy food that isn't wrapped up in loads of packaging as it'll be cheaper. Buy your fruit and veg loose, and also purchase more from the deli counter - cheeses and meats are likely to be cheaper here than those wrapped up in plastic on the shelves. It will also taste fresher.

Buy cheaper cuts of meat

Some cuts are cheaper than others, perhaps because they take longer to cook. But if you're prepared to invest a little more time in your cooking, buying cheaper cuts of meat is a great way to save!

Bin the big brands!

Supermarkets’ own label products often contain the same ingredients as their big brand equivalents. They can taste just as good too - and cost a lot less!

You can see how certain products compare in both cost and taste by checking out the Supermarket Own Brand Guide website.

Stack those coupons!

Make good use of coupons that come through your door and that you cut out of magazines. Teaming those with special offers can save you a hefty amount.

Check your units

It's always worth checking how much an item costs per 100 grams/kilogram. Sometimes, you may find it actually costs more to buy a larger packet than a smaller one.

Watch out for supermarket tricks

Supermarkets will try anything to tempt you to buy more than you need. So keep your eyes peeled for cunning tricks such as the smell of freshly-baked bread, confusing store layout, clever product placement and relaxing music.

Keep to a time limit

Don't spend hours and hours wandering around the supermarket aisles. The longer you spend there, the more you're likely to spend.

Just get what you need as quickly as possible, pay, and leave.

Collect loyalty points

Sign up to a loyalty card, such as a Tesco Clubcard or Nectar card, and you'll earn points whenever you go food shopping. 

You can then spend these points on groceries in the future, or redeem them against days out, fuel, gifts or hundreds of other goodies.

If you find an old Tesco Clubcard you can use it to scrape back unused points from the past two years.

Earn cashback

If you can afford to pay off your credit card bill in full each month, use a cashback credit card to do your shopping and you’ll earn a bit back every time you spend!

Just make sure you definitely pay off the balance in full each month – otherwise you'll be hit with a hefty rate of interest which will outweigh any cashback benefits.

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