Going to the grocery store can sometimes be kind of fun – you’re picking out good food that you like. The horrible part is the checkout line where you get your final grocery bill and it’s sky high.
According to a study, up to 40% of food in America goes uneaten and is just thrown out every year. This is mainly due to confusion in food labeling.
A family of 4 wastes $1500 a year on food according to the Ad Council. That’s $125 a month or $4 per day. Could you use an extra $125 a month?
The food most thrown away too early (in order) is:
- Seafood (50%)
- Fruits and Vegetables (48%)
- Grain Products (38%)
- Meat (22%)
- Milk (20%)
Food Labels Are Confusing
On our food, we see labels like:
- Sell By
- Use By
- Best By
- Pull By
- Best Before
- Expires On
- Best Used By
- Pack Date
- Guaranteed Fresh By
- Enjoy By
and it’s very confusing, right? You don’t want to get sick, so what do you do… you throw it out. If you take a minute to really understand what these labels mean, you’ll be able to keep food longer and you’ll save money on your grocery bill.
Save Money on Groceries by Understanding Expiration Dates on Food Products
Chances are, you’re throwing away some good food. If you simply understand what these labels mean, you’ll keep more food around longer and you’ll save money because you won’t be replacing food that’s still good to eat.
Use your head – if there’s a bad smell, then it has gone bad. If there’s no smell, then don’t let the date on products fool you and trick you into throwing good food out.
By keeping food longer, you won’t have to run to the store to replace good food that you’re throwing away.
You’re Probably Throwing Away ‘Expired’ Food That’s Totally Fine To Eat (huffingtonpost.com)
In general, people tend to wrongly assume that date labels indicating a food’s freshness (like “best before”) are telling them when their food will no longer be safe to eat. That can cause people to needlessly toss food that’s a little old.
The vast majority of food is safe to eat even after it passes the date on the label, Broad Leib said. “The worst that happens if you eat something spoiled is it doesn’t taste good and you’re like, ‘That was gross,’” she added. “But we’re starting to realize we only prioritize safety and we draw a halo around safety — then we end up throwing away food.”
Your Guide to Dates on Food
- “Best if Used By” (use-by date): The food will deteriorate in flavor but it might still be good to eat.
- Expiration Date: The food should be thrown out by this date.
- “Sell by” or “Pull by” Date: This is the date grocers should take the item off the shelves. It’s most likely still good to eat this food if you have it at home.
- “Guaranteed Fresh” Date: The food is perishable but might still be good to eat after this date.
- Pack Date: This just says when the food was packed – usually with canned goods or boxed food. This date code is encoded – decrypt the code here.
Other Food Expiration Information
- Canned foods (vegetables, meat and tuna) are good for 5 years if you store them in a cool, dry location. Canned fruits (including tomatoes) have a shelf life of 1.5 to 2 years.
- Yogurt lasts for 2 weeks after the expiration date.
- Bread can last 5-7 days past the “best by” date as long as there’s no mold on it. If there’s mold, toss it.
- Veggies that wilt is something that happens naturally and it doesn’t mean they are bad.
- Berries last 10 days but don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat them.
- Milk is generally good for 5 days after the sell by date. If it smells sour, toss it.
Tips for Keeping Food Longer
- Frozen bread can last up to 6 months.
- Put ripe avocados in the fridge and they’ll last longer.
- Flour lasts twice as long by freezing it.
- Loosely wrap leftover cheese in wax paper instead of in plastic.
- Loosen up brown sugar by putting it in a container with a slice of bread.
- Put apples in the refrigerator to keep them up to 6 weeks.
- Store citrus in the crisper of your refrigerator and do not store them in a bag. Leave them open.
- Grapes last 2 weeks. Don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat them.
Learn more food storage tips at savethefood.com to keep your food lasting longer and throwing out less (saving money). Laws on food labeling vary by state but there is legislation to standardize food expiration labeling to help make this less confusing for everyone.