As a survivalist and prepper, I know we like to stockpile foods and water. It is only sensible after-all. In a survival situation we may find ourselves with food that is passed its use by date.
First of all I shall explain what the terms mean. According to the USDA, this is what the terms mean:
Sell by: Retailers need to sell or remove the product by this date.
Use by: Consumers should probably eat the item by this date. If the date has passed, the product is often still safe, but the quality may be reduced.
Best by: The product’s quality is guaranteed until this date.
So, like me you may be wondering which are ok to eat past their use by date. I was curious too so I researched and made this list.
Try storing your milk in the coldest part of the fridge, the back. Pasteurized milk will last 50% longer if you store it at a lower temperature. Make sure to smell for an off smell before use, after its use by date.
No need to throw out old boxes. The Food Network explains that cereal is safe to use up to six months after the use by date. It may taste a little stale though.
Although it may be surprising, if you freeze meat you can extend the ‘use by’ by up to 50%. Try buying a little more, take out what you need and freeze the rest. Be careful with meat that is not frozen however, in that case it is best to respect the expiration date.
A rotten egg is quite yucky. No-one likes the smell of that. Eggs can often be used well past their use by dates however. There is an easy trick to telling if they are safe to eat passed their expiration date, place them in a bowl of water to check their buoyancy. If they sink, they are still safe to eat, if they float, do not eat them and throw them away. According to WebMD, eggs keep up to five weeks after their purchase date.
Not too surprisingly, unless it is somehow compromised, canned food can retain its nutrients for decades. Try to store canned food in a cool place. Keep in mind as the years go by the taste may not be as good though.
Not surprising, dry pasta can last up to three years past its use by date as long as you store it in a dry, cool place. If you push it, just make sure there is no off odor.
Fruit and Vegetables
This one needs a common sense approach. Check the items, if they are mushy, moldy or smell off do not eat them. If it is none of these, it is likely safe to eat passed its expiration date.
You can eat hard cheeses, such as cheddar, after their expiration date has passed. You can even eat them if they are moldy, just make sure you cut off the moldy parts before eating them. Hard cheeses remain safe to eat about a month after their use by date.
Put butter that is about to expire in the freezer. Frozen butter will stay fresh a lot longer. Thaw it when you need it, but it is best to use all of it once you have thawed it.
If the yogurt is sealed it can last weeks after its use by date. Experts suggest that you can even scrape off any mold and eat the rest.
Mustard and Ketchup
These will last a very long time after their used by dates as long as you store them well, out of the light and in a cooler spot. You may notice a small change in flavour after months past the expiration date, but they are fine to consume.
Packaged Chips and Biscuits
These are safe to eat well beyond their use by dates. As long as they smell ok, and do not crumble in your hand, they are safe to eat, though they may taste stale.
Salads and Greens
These are ok to eat passed the expiration date. Check to see if the leaves are wilted, if so, discard those pieces. Do not eat if you see lots of mushy and slimy leaves.
The use by on bread assumes you are storing it out on your kitchen counter. Better to store it either in a fridge or in a cool spot. There it can last up to two weeks. Storing it in a freezer will mean it will lose some of its taste, but it will extend the life considerably. It is safe to eat as long as you do not see mold growing on it. If you toast old bread, you will not notice the stale taste.
Foods Not Safe to Eat After Their Expiration Date
There are some foods that you really should not eat past their used by dates which I should mention, I will cover the more common, notable ones.
Fish and Seafood
It is not wise to risk it with fish and seafood past its use by. If the seafood was poorly stored or handled, it could have been contaminated by bacteria when fished. By consuming fish past its expiration date, you increase your chances of getting listeriosis, a disease that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Listeriosis is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, as it can increase the chances of miscarriage.
Unlike hard cheeses, with soft cheeses it is not a great idea to cut off the mold and eat the rest. This type of cheese can cause listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes listeriosis. Avoid eating it much past its use by date.
Wash your berries and do not use after the use by date, or after they begin to break down and grow mold. Berries can harbour a parasite called cyclospora, which causes diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, and other nasty flu like symptoms.
A wise survivalist can make the most of their food, which may be necessary in a crisis situation. I hope this list is a helpful reference.