Updated: Mar 31
Last Friday I felt it was mid winter this week however, last day of half term with the children off school its been a beautiful Spring day! The weekend forecast is looking good too…
So I have been tidying up and one of those jobs I have been putting off is defrosting the freezer and fridge and having a clear out. Its amazing how much of my freezer turned out to be ice! Have I thrown much away? not really, I don’t like too. I have discarded a few out of date yoghurts (well they smelt bad) and some cheese from Christmas that looked like it could walk out of the fridge, all by itself! My general rule is to try and use everything in date ideally but what happens when you don’t get round to using that cream or bacon hidden behind a few vegetables?
I was reading an article about how every year we throw away around seven million tonnes of food and drink at an estimated cost of £12 billion. ‘Many people bin food because of confusion about in-date lables on packaging’ so I have done a quick guide to minimising waste…
According to Wikipedia…Shelf life is the length of time that a commodity may be stored without becoming unfit for use, consumption, or sale. In other words, it might refer to whether a commodity should no longer be on a pantry shelf (unfit for use), or just no longer on a supermarket shelf (unfit for sale, but not yet unfit for use).
‘Best Before’ refers to quality rather than food safety, so foods are safe to be eaten after this date but may longer be at their best.
‘Use by’ dates refer to food safety, so should not be eaten after this date even if it looks and smells fine.
‘Sell by’ dates are there to help supermarkets manage stock control so food is perfectly safe to be eaten after this date (within reason) if it looks and smells OK.
Remember people who are ‘in risk’ groups including babies, pregnant women, the elderly and people who are already unwell should avoid food past its best before date.
A general rule of thumb: “The more refined and processed a food is, the longer you can keep it past the expiration date” says Men’s Health magazine. The exception: Meats—especially processed ones like deli sandwich meat, hot dogs, and sausages. “You don’t want to eat these past the expiration date.” They have a particularly high danger of a type of bacteria called listeria—which can lead to an infection called listeriosis, which—in some cases—can lead to meningitis. An unopened pack of bacon will last for one to two weeks but once opened can only be kept for another week.
Raw Meat – beef, pork and chicken – can only be used one to two days after the best-before date and will last up to seven days once its been cooked and refridgerated.
Canned goods: Most expiration dates on foods in cans range from 1 to 4 years—but keep the food in a cool, dark place and the cans undented and in good condition, and you can likely safely double that shelf life from 3 to up to 6 years.
Frozen foods: They’re much like canned goods: pretty much expiration-proof. The exceptions? Meat.
Eggs: When properly stored eggs can be eaten up to three to four weeks after the sell-by, but you do need to ensure the yolks and whites are cooked thoroughly when you do eat them. Here’s a good test – Put an egg in a bowl of water. If it floats, the bacteria count is too high and unsafe too eat. Bacteria produces gases in high numbers, causing the egg to float, showing you it’s gone bad.
Pasta: Pasta is a dry good that is hard to spoil—it has no water content. As long as it doesn’t smell odd, you can keep pasta longer than the expiration date. Cooked pasta can last for up to seven days in the fridge or six to eight months in the freezer.
Store Cupboard – Cornflour, sugar, baking powder, flour and cake mixes can be used up to six months after the sell by date. Again these are easily hidden at the back of the cupboard!
Bread: You can keep it dramatically longer than the date on the box if you put it in the fridge or freezer. As long as you don’t see mold, it’s good.
Fresh fruits and vegetables: Look at it, smell it, and feel it—and you can usually tell if a food is going down or not. Soft fruits and mixed greens are the most risky and those pre-packaged salads.
Salad Dressings – Most salad dressings are oil or mayonnaise based and if they are stored correctly in the fridge they can still be used well past their best by date. Yogurt dressings are more of a concern.
Cheese – Hard cheeses like Parmesan can still be eaten two to four months after the printed sell-by date, but after its grated it will only last for one month! Semi hard cheese like Cheddar should only be kept for one month. Once opened all Cheese should only be kept for a maximum of three to six weeks… hence the funny smell in my fridge!
Butter – This will keep for one month in the fridge, or if its getting near its sell by date put it in the freezer where it will last upto nine months.