14 “Expired Foods” That You Can Still Eat
Every once in a while, you make a resolution to clean your kitchen and fridge out and throw out all those foods that haven’t been used in a while, and are past their best-by date. But wait! Before you end up throwing out something that is perfectly fine to eat, stop and think.
The reality is that best-by dates are usually an estimate by the manufacturer of when the product will be freshest, tastiest, etc. And sell-by dates are just a guideline to retailers as to how long they can display it on their shelves. In truth, many products do not become unsafe to eat even if these dates have passed. Sometimes, you might have to sacrifice taste, but you can save yourself a lot of money and reduce wastage in the long run.
There are a lot of foods that you can safely consume even after their best by date has passed. These include things like foods that are designed specifically to withstand the test of time, processed foods, natural foods, and even moldy cheese! Read on to find out more:
1. Milk & Yogurt
Know how we said that the sell-by date is a guide to retailers, and not customers? Two of the most common foods to carry this rule is milk & yogurt. Generally, if stored correctly (in the fridge) these are still good to be consumed 5 days after this date. And if the milk or yogurt does go bad? Well, there’s no way you’ll be able to ignore the stinky smell or taste!
Eggs are another kitchen staple that don’t always have to be thrown out when they pass their use-by date. But no one wants to break one open only to be hit by the truly rancid smell of a rotten egg. No worries, you can use a simple trick to check if the egg is still safe to use. Place the egg in a cup of water. If it sinks, it’s at its freshest, and if it sort of sits in the middle, its still good to eat. But if it floats to the top, throw it away!
3. Canned Goods
Canned foods are designed with the specific purpose of standing the test of time, so they last a long time. Even though the date on most canned items already go upto 2-3- years, we’d say it’s safe to eat up to a year or so after that date. Of course, the can should be stored in a cool, dry place, and if it is broken/leaking/rusted, etc. it’s a no-go.
4. Dried Herbs
If you’ve got a packet of dried thyme sitting in the back of your cupboard since ages, and you suddenly need it for something or the other, you can still use it even if it has gone past its expiration date. Chances are the smell and flavor of it will be milder, but it’s not actually “spoiled”, so you might just have to use a bit more.
Spices are very similar to dried herbs as well. Ground spices will lose their flavor over time and maybe even clump up. But neither of these make it unsafe to eat. Whole spice are more or less the same, but they usually still retain their flavor. If they start to smell slightly musty, you can just dry roast them in a non-stick pan for a few minutes and it’ll go away!
Condiments like ketchup and mustard are good to be eaten for a long time, as long as they are stored in the right conditions. The use-by date on them indicates when they stay in their best form. Even changes in taste, texture, or flavor do not mean a bottle of ketchup or mustard has gone bad.
7. Frozen Foods
The high temperatures of a freezer prevent most foods from going stale. This includes fruits, vegetables, and even meat. The best way to store things in the freezer is in individual portions. It won’t be the same if you’re having to take out a large portion of frozen produce out, thaw it it, use some of it, and re-freeze the rest. This way, the worst thing that could happen to your frozen food is freezer burn due to oxidization, which does not make it unsafe to eat.
8. Hard Cheese
According to The Food Network, hard cheeses like Parmesan are safe to consume even if their expiration date has passed by. They say that even moldy cheese is no problem! If there’s mold on the outside, you should trim away those parts completely and eat the unaffected areas. This can be done up to one month past their expiration date.
Dried pasta is another staple that is meant to last long time. There is no water content in pasta, which would make them very hard to spoil. Therefore, we’d say its safe to use even a year or more past its expiration date. Just give it a sniff before popping it in some boiling water. If it isn’t giving off any unpleasant odors, you’ve got no problem.
10. Bread & Cakes
You can drastically increase the shelf life of a loaf of bread or a piece of cake by simply refrigerating it. If you freeze it, it can last even longer! All you need to do when you want to eat it is take it out and thaw completely. As long there’s no mold on it, it’s as good as new!
11. Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
If you buy pre-packaged portions of fresh fruit or vegetables, they may come with an expiration date. But, when it comes to natural foods, it’s not really rocket science figuring out whether they are good to eat. Even if part of the vegetable is rotten, sometimes you can still eat the rest of it. But before you use it, make sure to carefully look, feel, and smell it. If it doesn’t seem any different you’re good to go.
A chocolate bar that has passed its best-by date might not look as shiny as a brand new one or even taste as smooth or luscious. But, it’s still completely safe to eat, as long as it has been stored properly and left unopened. The white stuff on the surface of an old chocolate bar is not mold, it is simply the fat that rises to the top when the chocolate melts and resets. This process is also what messes with the texture.
13. Packaged Snacks
Things like cookies, chips, and other similar packaged foods can be safe to eat well past their expiration date. Of course, they might not be as tasty or crunchy, but they are still good to eat. A clever trick to bring the crunch bake to stale cookies is to bake them in a low-temperature oven for a few minutes. But, in the case that the chips have let out too much oil, the cookie is too crumbly, or there is any foul smell in general, then it’s better to throw them away.
Butter can also be manipulated to stay fresh longer than indicated by the date on the package. Throw a stick of butter that’s about to expire in the freezer, and it will last for as long as you need it. Just take it out and thaw completely before using it.
…All humans have something called a gut instinct. If yours is telling you that you that a food is not safe to eat, apart from fear or “because it’s the norm”, then don’t eat it. But, common sense and logic, along with some of the knowledge we’ve passed on here, should be enough help to identify what foods you can eat past their expiration date.