I grew up on a farm, we ate a lot of our own produce. I learned to use sight/smell/texture to decide if food was ok to eat. Also we shopped once a week or fortnight so didn't have the luxury of fresh produce every few days unless it came from the garden or freezer.
Meat I will make sure I cook it by its use by date. Dairy I don't trust use by dates so always have a sniff or a small taste first if I'm suspicious - I find milk often turns before its use by date?
Ham I will use by use by date
Best before dates I view as a guideline at best!
Canned goods I inspect the can for damage - I read somewhere if the can is damaged bacteria can start to grow?