Are online discount supermarkets any good?

We look at Discount Dragon, Approved Foods and more

Approved Foods and Discount Dragons are two well known online discount supermarkets but there are some lesser well known ones too which are worth a look at if you want to find a bargain.

These online discount supermarkets used to be a great place to find a bargain but it is becoming harder and harder to find a good buy. Are they feeling the pinch from the rise in the cost of living too?

What are online discount supermarkets?

Discount supermarkets like Approved Food and Discount Dragon sell groceries that are just past or close to their best before dates, products with damaged packaging or surplus food. By buying the products cheap from manufacturers, they are saving them from going to landfill and can then sell these items on to us for a discounted price.

Motatos was a big player until recently, when it quit the UK due to challenging market conditions, leaving Approved Foods, Discount Dragon, Clearance XL and Low Price Foods as the main players in the discount grocery arena.

Is it safe to eat out of date food?

Selling food that has passed the best before date prevents these products from going to landfill, helping to reduce food waste.

Items such as canned food can last well past their best-before dates, but other products are a little more susceptible to spoilage.

I have made the mistake of buying out of date chocolates before and although perfectly safe to consume, the quality was compromised. There was blooming which is where the fat or sugar crystallises with changes in temperature and/or moisture and the filled chocolates had spoiled.

Items like crisps and crackers can begin to lose their crispness once past their best before dates so it is best not to purchase products too far past, if you want a comparable crunch! Biscuits also go soft over time – but did you know you can revive the crunch by popping them in the oven for a few minutes.

Soft drinks last well past their best before dates with little obvious change in taste although with time there will be a gradual loss of flavour and carbonation. These are often a good buy on these discount sites as it is difficult to noticeably taste any difference.

Sweets are another product that lasts well, although you may detect some changes in texture after their best before date has passed. Quite often, it is difficult to detect any flavour changes as long as they have been stored properly. 

On the whole, most food and drink that has passed the ‘best before’ date will be perfectly fine to consume and you will detect very little difference.

Best-before vs use-by dates

There’s a big difference between best-before and use-by dates. 

A “best before” date indicates the date that the product may lose quality – it’s generally safe to eat after this date, especially if its stored correctly.

Meanwhile, a “use-by” date is the date by which you should consume a product – they’re unlikely to be safe after this date. You can often freeze a product before its use-by date to temporarily pause its deterioration.

We have more information about best-before and use-by dates in our dedicated article.

Will they save you money?

Shopping on discount supermarket sites is not quick or easy due to the random selection of products they offer which also changes on a regular basis – so in short you never quite know what you’re going to get.

I had a look at the leading sites to see if they could form part of my weekly shop.

Approved Foods

A quick look at Approved Foods and I can’t say I found any amazing bargains that I wanted or needed to buy and trawling the site for them was quite time consuming.

The bargain section is where you’ll find the best deals. At the time of writing, you could buy Sharwood’s butter chicken cooking sauce for 20p with a best before date of July 2023, cans of diet coke for 25p and Reese’s peanut butter cups for 20p per pack. The bargain section is small but if you’re lucky and there is something you want, then you can bag yourself a bargain. I did find however, that on the whole the bargains seemed to be much scarcer than they used to be.

The ‘weekly deal’ was 2 boxes of bulk Cadbury Heroes for £30. Suddenly the site has caught my attention. 1. because it tells me it’s a deal and 2. because it’s chocolate!

With a best-before date of July 2023, they’re already a gamble when it comes to quality. They work out at £7.50 per kg but at the time of writing, I could buy a 550g tub at Tesco with a Clubcard price of £4 which works out at £7.20 per kg and these chocolates have plenty of time before they reach their best before date.

The rest of the shop had some good bargains but many everyday items like toilet rolls and kitchen rolls had prices comparable to a regular supermarket. On the whole it’s the short dated products where you’ll find the best buys but you may have to take a gamble on quality.

There is also a £3 delivery charge based per box weighing up to 25kg that you need to take into account when shopping at Approved Foods. There is free delivery on orders of £55 – but that’s a lot to spend!

Low Price Foods is another discount retailer and again, finding the bargains proved to be a little time consuming, but just like Approved Foods, they are there if you look hard enough.

There was nothing I wanted to buy and to be honest, the savings were not big enough to entice me into any impulse purchases and there’s also a minimum £4.95 delivery fee on top for your first box on each order (up to 25kg) which makes the discounts they offer even less of a bargain. Subsequent boxes after 25kg are charged for based on the weight of those boxes.

Discount Dragon

Discount Dragon restored my faith in online discount supermarkets. It was a great website to navigate and there were lots of bargains to be had! There is a minimum order of £25 but I filled up my basket very easily so didn’t have a problem reaching the threshold.

My best buys at the time of writing were 10 cans of Diet Coke for 99p and a 24 pack of Weetabix for £1.29. The products vary daily so it’s worth a look when you have a spare 10 minutes and they do free delivery on orders over £25 too.

I found this online shop easy to navigate, it enticed me with some great deals and the bargains were plentiful.

Clearance XL

Clearance XL sell a lot more than just groceries, including electricals and clothing, and this site had some great grocery bargains. Most items were past their best before dates but it clearly highlights the date so you can see just how far.

Postage is dependent on the weight of the products you purchase and there is no minimum order. A really easy to navigate site with some good bargains but don’t forget the postage (they state it starts at £5.99 for 60kg dependent on where you are in the UK)

Best Before It’s Gone

Best Before Its Gone is a really great site to navigate and has some bulk bargains such as a whole case of wine gums for just a pound. There are Monday half price offers each week to entice you back, and with plenty of bargains to be had, may well be worth a return visit. Shipping is calculated on volumetric weight so don’t forget to take this into account.

Pros and cons of using online discount supermarkets


  • Some prices can be very low
  • Shopping at these sites helps reduce food waste
  • There are some good bulk buys


  • Not all prices beat supermarkets – lots can be found cheaper elsewhere, especially when they are on offer
  • Some sites have minimum spends
  • Most have delivery charges
  • You can’t guarantee your regular products will be there

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So is it worth shopping on discount supermarket sites?

In summary, it appears discount retailers are also incurring the price increase of food we’re all experiencing. Gone are the bulk bargains that set these discount retailers apart from the supermarket giants and instead you’ll find a few good deals, but a lot more random products that I can find cheaper in my weekly supermarket shop.

These sites are always worth a look if you have the time and you will find some good bargains but on the whole the really great bargains are few and far between. 

Discount Dragon has outshone the competitors in this review with plenty of good products with great discounts and is the only one of the shops reviewed that does not charge for postage.  It does have a minimum spend of £25 but in this day and age, it is quite easy to reach that threshold. 

Discount retailer cashback

Its always worth shopping via a cashback site, especially on your first shop, to earn a little money. Remember if you’re a new user of either TopCashback or Quidco you can get a welcome bonus here.

Cashback rates will change, but at the time of writing, you could earn the following:

  • Approved Food has some great cashback offers with Quidco offering £4 for new customers and £1.20 for existing customers. And TopCashback is offering new customers £5.25 and existing customers £1.57.
  • Low Price Foods offers 4% cashback through Quidco and 5.25% cashback through TopCashback.
  • Discount Dragon customers can get 2.4% cashback for new customers and 0.8% cashback for existing customers through Quidco. And TopCashback is offering 3.15% cashback for new customers and 1.05% cashback for existing customers.
  • Clearance XL customers can get 4.4% cashback through Quidco and 4.67% through TopCashback

One thought on “Are online discount supermarkets any good?

  1. Thank you. Very informative.


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