How Long Is It Good For?

by Merissa on March 16, 2012

in Frugal Living Tips

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How long past 'use by date' is food flavorful, quality OK, safe..and I don't mean fresh items...Canned ...packaged.. baking mixes...... . ???  Leslie B in Oregon

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As I'm sure you probably guessed...the use by date on the package of the product isn't always the exact day that you need to throw something out. Most of the time, a product is good for days, weeks, or even a year after that date! It all depends on the product. Here are a few tips on when you actually need to throw something out!

Dairy Products: These go bad the fastest. Sour cream, milk, cream cheese, ect. You can easily tell when the product is no longer usable by just checking how it smells and if there is any visible mold. The expiration date does not apply to dairy products that are frozen because they will be good for much longer. You can find a list of how long things last in the freezer here.

Canned Foods: Canned foods can last a good year after the expiration date. The things to watch for are a bulging cans, any discoloring around the rims of the can, or any funny smells. Tomato products may not last quite as long because of the acidity.

Cereals and Crackers: These will only last a couple months after the expiration date before they start to get soggy and lose their flavor. A quick bite into a cracker will tell you if it's still ok!

Boxed Mixes: As long as these have been kept in a good dry location they should be good for at least 6 months after the expiration date on the package.

If you are looking for the shelf life on a specific product you should check out this neat Shelf Life Database!

And for more info....if you ever wanted to know what month to buy something in and how much to stock up on certain months, check out this article on How to Stock Up. Also if you plan on buying these expired products in a surplus or discount grocery store you will want to check out this article on How to Shop at a Discount Grocery Store.

Find even more Simple Tips!

Have a question you want me to try and answer? Email it to me directly by Contacting Me Here!

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8:00 am

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leslie Burckard March 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Thank you so much!!


2 KimH March 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Personally, I think that tomato products last longer due to their acidity..
I’ve never lived by the “date” on foods, but used my nose & senses the most. The use by dates are estimated dates for legal purposes & doesnt really reflect on a products usability. I think the only thing I really do use by the use by date is milk, not that it would last that long in my house. 😉

With cheese, we just cut any mold off & use it.. thats what they do before it gets into your grocer if its an aged cheese.

I have a girlfriend who used to buy new eggs, cheese, lettuce, bread, & milk each & every week because she thought they were bad after one week. We used to laugh at her and tell her to bring us her “trash”. There were probably other things she tossed each week but those are the only ones I can remember. Crazy girl.. I bet shes learned by now. 😉


3 Country Roads Lead Me Home March 17, 2012 at 6:33 am

Dates don’t mean much to me. They didn’t have expiration dates on all this stuff when I was a kid! (does that mean I’m old?). If it hasn’t been opened/damaged then it’s usually fine is how I was raised.


4 Jo March 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Once I bought some sweetened condensed milk at a salvage grocery. It was about a year past expiration, and instead of a white/yellowish color, it was caramel, and had that “dulce de leche” flavor. Hasn’t killed us yet. =)


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