10 Foods That Are Good to Eat Past Their Expiration Dates

There are a few different labels on products that inform you about the freshness of food. For example, “sell by” labels are just so stores know when to pull a product from their shelves. “Best if used by” labels tell us that it might still be safe to eat something after that date, but its flavor might not be the same. So maybe those dates aren’t exactly an indicator that we should throw products away and buy fresh ones.

Bright Side wants to let you know that it’s still okay to eat certain foods for quite a while past their expiration date.

1. Eggs

It’s estimated that eggs that have been stored properly in the fridge can last 3-5 weeks. However, that doesn’t mean that if this period of time has passed you can’t eat the few eggs left in the carton. The best thing to do is break the eggs and check their color and odor. An egg that’s gone bad will have discoloration marks and a really unbearable odor that will make it the exact opposite of appetizing.

2. Hard cheese and butter

Hard cheeses tend to last longer than soft cheeses due to their lower content in water. Depending on the type of cheese, they can last up to 6 weeks in the fridge after being opened. Parmesan can last 3-6 weeks, cheddar for 3-4 weeks, and Edam and gouda for up to 2 weeks. Make sure that you store your cheese in an airtight container or even in the freezer if you don’t plan on using it soon.

Butter lasts even longer in the fridge after you’ve already opened the package. You can use it even 1-2 months after their expiration date has passed or 2-3 months if the package is unopened. The reason butter lasts for so long is because it doesn’t contain too much lactose, and it’s mostly made of fat. The best way to preserve butter is to either keep it in its original packaging or wrap it in extra foil.

3. Milk and yogurt

Many people are afraid to drink expired milk, thinking it’s unsafe, but in reality, it’s still safe to drink a week later — that is if the milk has been stored properly with its cap tightly closed and its smell is still okay. But even if it’s a bit sour, you can still use it in cooking or baking since it can be a great substitute for buttermilk. You don’t have to be afraid of serious illness since all harmful pathogens are already killed in the pasteurization process.

Yogurt is also safe to eat a week or 2 after its expiration date if it still looks and smells good. What we mean by that is spoiled yogurt will have signs of discoloration or, even worse, mold. As long as it looks perfectly white, you can rest assured that it’s okay to put it in your breakfast.

4. Cereal

An unopened bag of cereal can last anywhere from 6-12 months in your cupboard, while an opened bag will be good for 4-6 months after its expiration. The expiry date is only an indicator of when the product’s peak quality will start declining. This doesn’t mean that it’s unsafe to eat your cereal and have to buy a new package — that would just be money down the drain. If the cereal is unsafe to eat, you will notice a bad smell, insects, and flies in the packaging, or even mold.

5. Peanut butter and applesauce

An opened jar of peanut butter can last 2-3 months in the pantry and 6-9 months in the fridge. But it may last even longer if it’s 100% natural. However, even when it goes bad, it won’t go moldy, but instead, its flavor will be very different and not very pleasant. Remember that separated oils don’t mean that your peanut butter is bad, but rather, a rock-hard product might mean that.

An unopened jar of applesauce can last 2-4 months past the expiration date. On the other hand, an opened jar — homemade or store-bought — can last 7-10 days in the fridge. You can still check the product to see if it tastes okay, but chances are it will taste just fine. Some brands allow their products to be used even 30 days after opening a jar.

6. Condiments

Ketchup is undoubtedly one of the most popular condiments, and an opened bottle can last up to a year in the fridge. That depends on the quality of the brand, and you will notice that it’s gone bad if you see any separation and darkening. A regular opened bottle of mustard is also very sturdy and can last anywhere from 12-18 months if stored in the fridge. The warning signs that it has gone bad are discoloration and a very foul odor.

An opened jar of mayonnaise can last for 2-3 months in the fridge since the low temperature slows down the birth of bacteria. However, an open jar that’s left outside of the fridge can last approximately 8 hours. If you’re making your own mayonnaise, keep in mind that you will have to use it all within a week before it goes bad.

7. Chips, cookies, and crackers

A bag of chips can last up to 1 month after its expiration date has passed. Now, that doesn’t mean that they will be harmful to eat, but that they will have probably lost their crispness. You can store them in a cool, dry place and seal them nicely so they can last for longer. Crackers and pretzels, on the other hand, can last up to 3 months past their expiration dates.

Packaged cookies can last 7-10 days (soft) and 2-3 weeks (hard) in your pantry after being opened. You can extend their life by popping them in the freezer, where they can survive for 4-5 months. Homemade cookies can last the same time in the freezer, but only 2-3 days (soft) and 2-3 weeks (hard) in your pantry.

8. Meat and fish

Fresh meat can’t be left in the fridge after it’s been purchased for more than 5 days and should be frozen if not used. So, depending on the type of meat, it can maintain its freshness and taste for up to 12 months in the freezer — 4-12 months for steaks, 3-4 months for uncooked ground meat, 1-2 months for sausage, and 9-12 months for poultry. Make sure that your freezer works properly since the bacteria in poorly stored meat doubles every 15-20 minutes.

Fresh fish, on the other hand, lasts only 1-2 days in the fridge, while smoked fish can last 5-7 days. Like with meat, you can extend seafood’s life by keeping it in the freezer for 3-9 months, depending on the type of fish. If the fish has gone bad, you will notice a slimy texture and a generally unpleasant smell when defrosted.

9. Cake mix

Cake mix boxes usually contain flour, raising agents, sugar, cocoa, and other flavoring ingredients. This means that they can last for a long period of time, even after being opened. In this case, they can be used even 4-5 months later if they have been stored properly in dry and cool environments.

However, you will need to check your cake mix for flour bugs since they can appear at any time. Also known as weevils, they eat your flour while mating, which means that they multiply quite fast. So if you see any small black spots in your flour, it means that you will need to clean it before using it. You won’t necessarily have to throw the package out, but instead, inspect the level of damage.

10. Honey

Pure honey is one of the very few products that can’t go bad no matter if it’s stored properly or not. Honey that isn’t mixed with other syrups will crystalize or darken in color, but that’s only natural, and it doesn’t mean you need to throw it away. All you need to do is keep your honey in a glass jar with the lid always closed tightly. It’s the one product where expiration dates are only added so companies can keep selling new jars and customers can pay more money.

Do you always throw expired food away without even checking it out, or do you always inspect something to see if it’s still good to eat?

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