Try to get into the habit of checking what you already have in the fridge and freezer before you go shopping. Use up foods that are approaching their “use by” date and other fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese or milk first as these can go off over time.
Use by date is about safety and the most important date to remember. Foods can be eaten (and most can be frozen) up until the use by date, but not after. You will see use by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or ready-prepared salads.
Best before date is about quality and not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. Its flavour and texture might not be as good. The best before dates appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods.
Foods can be stored in a freezer for a long time without going off, but the quality will deteriorate over time. Eat your frozen food within 3 to 6 months, and check for any freezing instructions on the packaging.
Keep fresh meat and meat juices away from other foods in the refrigerator, and when preparing. Never place cooked foods on the same platter that held fresh meats or poultry. This stops cross-contamination of bacteria.
Wash your hands thoroughly in hot, soapy water before and after handling meat and other fresh foods. This keeps bacteria from your hands off the food, and keeps bacteria from the food off your hands.