Do you find yourself throwing milk, eggs and meat away because they’re past the expiration date? You could be unnecessarily wasting good food.
According to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, we’re taking those expiration and sell-by dates too literally. Nine out of 10 Americans waste food due to confusion over the expiration date - about $165 billion worth annually.
The dates we find printed on products are the manufacturer’s suggestion for when the food is at its freshest, not when it is unsafe. And the sell-by date can be confusing, leading people to throw out the food well before it’s gone bad.
If you’re tired of wasting good food, here are 10 foods that can be eaten past the expiration date, if properly stored.
Meat: If you freeze it, it will give the meat around a 50% longer shelf life.
Canned goods: Keep the cans in a cool, dark area to extend — and in some instances, double — the shelf life.
Eggs: Men’s Health nutrition expert Alan Aragon suggests doing a float test for the eggs. If you put an egg in a bowl of water and it floats, it means gases have built up in the shell, and it’s not safe to eat. If it sinks, you’re good to go.
Pasta: Since it’s a dry, hard product, it won’t spoil easily. You can use it past the expiration date, just make sure it doesn’t smell funny.
Bread: Bread will keep in the freezer past the expiration date as long as you don’t spot any mold.
Fresh fruits and vegetables: Use common sense with fruits and vegetables. Check if it’s mushy, moldy or has an “off” smell.
Frozen food: These products will keep long after the expiration date, but if we’re talking meat, the expiration period will usually only extend by 50%.
Packaged greens. It’s OK to eat the lettuce if it’s wilting, just not decaying. Food safety expert Ted Labuza suggests soaking the lettuce in ice water for 10 minutes.
Dry goods (crackers, corn chips): Check if the chips or crackers are stale. You can try crisping them in the toaster oven. But if they smell odd, throw them away.
Milk: Labuza says pasteurized milk will keep 50% longer if you store it at a lower temperature. Try storing at the back of the fridge rather than the fridge door.
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