Today I’m doing a dedicated blog post about the Sheffield-based company Approved Food.
I just want to make it clear that I’m not being paid by AF for this post (although they do know about it). So, now we can begin!
I got my first Approved Food order on a couple of months ago, and have already been tucking into some of their delicious goodies. I was so impressed I sent off a follow-up order pretty soon afterwards!
Approved Food aren’t your average internet retailer- they specialise in out-of-date (perfectly good) and short-dated items, but you will find items with longer dates on their website, too, usually surplus from bigger retailers. Almost all their items are significantly discounted compared to the usual supermarket RRP. I’d always advise you to compare on more expensive items, though, and to check offers at your local supermarket.
They estimate they save 32 million items from landfill every year- a big deal if you’re concerned with sustainability, food waste, food miles, and so on. And let’s not forget that the more food we waste as a society, the higher food prices will be. That’s bad not just for us in relatively wealthy countries, but also in less economically developed countries, where poorer people can be priced out of a decent diet.
Of course, Approved Food helps to reduce waste in the supply chain, but they also educate consumers to help save food at home, too. Following their Facebook page is a good way to keep up-to-date with their offers and outreach. Explaining the difference between ‘Sell by, ‘Use by’, ‘Display until’, and ‘Best before’ helps consumers to make more informed choices about when a product really is past its best. Anyone who knows me will know my strong feelings about best-before dates, especially on things like pickles, chutneys, and so on, which actually improve with age, so long as they’re packaged soundly. Woe betide anyone who tries to police my cupboards!
Because of the nature of AF’s business, the majority of the foods it sells are imperishables- pasta, noodles, tinned fruits and vegetables, sauces, spices, and so on. They do however offer a small range of fresh fruits and vegetables. I didn’t order any of these this time as I was well-stocked from my usual supplier. At the moment, I’m using AF as a cupboard-filler, for staple ingredients. Pasta here is super cheap, which is ideal. They also stock a few niche products I wouldn’t normally buy- ghee, for instance. I’ve been meaning to get some for a while for curries and general frying, but always put it off as I’d never buy enough to justify it. At this price, though, I nabbed some, and I can always ice-cube it and store it in the freezer until needed.
They’re also pretty good for baking ingredients, although you won’t find everything you want all the time.
So, is it worth it? If you find something you like at a good price, then yes, definitely. But be quick!
I feel it’s definitely worth taking a peek and seeing what’s on offer.
Here are some of my key points:
- Mostly very cheap. Like, really really cheap.
- Good shipping (in my experience)
- Chance to try new products. For me, finding ingredients dirt cheap on Approved Food makes it worth going out on a limb to try them. And so far I’ve been really pleased with the results.
- Not for faddy shoppers. Most of AF’s products are out-of-date, out of season, or short-dated. If you stick rigidly to your sell-by-dates, this isn’t the store for you. Also, have a read about the amount of food wasted in this country and then tell me you can afford to be picky. If you don’t mind a short date or a dented tin, shop away, friend!
- Great for groups and co-ops. Shopping at Approved Food would really, really suit a community group, soup kitchen, food pantry or food co-op. You can get great bargains if you’re able to buy in bulk. Pro tip: search for ‘Case Price‘ to find the biggest bargains. Club together, formally or informally, with friends or relatives, to get great value. Unfortunately, most food banks don’t accept food past its best-by date, though, so check and donate with care.
- Changeable range. Although AF fairly solidly stocks its staples, and some of the more niche products move slowly so tend to be available for longer, it’s always as well to jump on a bargain as soon as possible. They seem to have a pretty dedicated customer base who will snap up the insane bargains. I have an order of staples saved in my basket, waiting for a super-bargain on something fun to clinch the deal.
- Low minimum order. I love this fact. The minimum order is £17.50 at time of writing, far less than most online supermarkets. And besides, £17.50 goes a LONG way at Approved Food!
- Niche products available. I don’t know how, or why, but they come across some amazing, random cool stuff. Including some diet food, some free-from, some coeliac-friendly, and some muscle-building stuff. They’re also brilliant for East Asian and South Asian ingredients.
- Outside courier delivery (usually UK Mail). Which is fine, but it does mean you can’t book a delivery slot or date as you do with some online supermarkets. So it’s better for people who work part-time, or from home, or have friendly neighbours. I’d really like to see Approved Food grow and hire their own delivery guys, but I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible for them.
- Referral bonuses. Once you’ve created an account, you can share Approved Food with others. I’m not sure the exact algorithm for assigning credit, but if a friend follows your referral link, creates an account, and completes an order, then you can accrue some credit toward your next order.
- Good customer service. My first order with AF got damaged in postage. Their customer service team gave me options as to how I could be compensated- either re-ship the order, abandon it and have the funds credited to my account, or get a refund to my payment card. The fund credit was sorted really quickly and my subsequent two orders have been problem-free.
- Great for parties. Because you can bulk order, and they sell alcohol (!), Approved Food is a fairly easy way to cater for parties and gatherings. Whether you tell your friends that the food they’re eating is short-dated, I’ll leave to your own moral compass. I’ve never seen anyone check a best-before date on a bottle of beer.
I hope this has inspired you to think of trying Approved Food, and to try to think of ways you can minimise your food waste! Try freezing, swapping with friends, menu planning to reduce waste, and so on. If you have any great tips for reducing food waste, share them in the comments.
Miss Scrumptious xx