Tossing food is a waste of money and resources. The dates printed on packaging are there to protect the reputation of the food. They have very little to do with food safety. If you’re worried whether food is still OK to eat, just smell it.
Try to plan ahead as best you can so that your family is eating the freshest (aka most nutritious) foods they can.
10. Sell By
The ‘sell by’ date is not an expiration date. It comes in handy for the stores selling the products. Consumers have about a week after this date until the item starts to turn bad but remember, nutritional value decreases as time goes by.
9. Use By/Best If Used By
Again, this indicates best taste and peak value, not safety. If the use by date is here, it does not mean toss immediately.
If you buy raw dairy, you’ll want to be extra careful about refrigeration and cleanliness. In general, it’s fairly easy to tell when dairy has gone south: look for texture and odor changes. Cream, milk, cottage cheese, and sour cream are generally safe for about 10 days after the date on the label. Cheese and butter last much longer but it’s best to consume them within 4 weeks of purchase.
Eggs drop a grade a week but are entirely edible for much longer than most people assume – 3 to 5 weeks from the date of purchase!
– Wrap produce in a paper towel – DON’T keep it in a plastic bag. This will give your veggies an extra day or two of crispness.
– Tomatoes, bananas, citrus, avocados and berries should stay on the counter, not in the fridge. Northern fruits like apples and pears can go in the fridge.
– It’s also wise to buy less. Many of us buy groceries only once every week or two, and our best-laid vegetable intentions go the way of the trash. Buy enough produce for 3-5 days at a stretch, at the most.
– Fortunately, it is fairly easy to detect vegetables and fruits that have gone bad: you’ll see mold spots, they’ll smell “off”, or they’ll be limp and uninspiring.
– Baked dishes, soups, and stews can last a week provided they are meat-free. If they do contain meat, 5 days is perfectly fine if the meat was fresh. If the meat you used was previously frozen, you’ll want to eat the leftovers within 3 days.
– That said, salads and fruits quickly turn to mush (though they are perfectly edible!). To keep these things fresher longer, keep the dressings and sauces in separate containers and simply add as needed.
– Try to get into the habit of “less is more”. The more fresh, whole foods you eat, the less you’ll have to worry about spoiling.
-Use your soon to expire leftovers to make new meals
4. Red Meats
Use or freeze fresh meat within 3 days. If you buy frozen meat and thaw it, do not refreeze! Cured meats last longer – about a week.
3. Fish & Fowl
Use or freeze within 2 days. The same refreezing rules apply.
2. General Tips
– The freshest food is placed in the back so bypass the items front on the shelf when shopping.
– Choose the third or fourth carton of any dairy product – less prolonged exposure to light means better nutrition.
– Canned goods last about a year (some up to two years), but why eat canned? Go fresh.
– Though we tend to think in terms of safety, this isn’t really an issue. We should buy the freshest foods possible, not for safety, but because it’s best to eat foods at the peak of their nutritional availability. Week-old milk or three-week-old eggs will not harm you, but the nutritional value fades. Eat fresh!
1. The Most Important Rule
When in doubt, throw it out!