What if you could save almost a third of your grocery budget by doing … nothing? A study done a couple of years ago revealed that Americans waste almost 32-percent of the groceries we buy because we throw out food that may still be safe, but has passed its sell-by date. The typical family spends $900 a month in groceries, so cutting out this waste could save nearly $300 per month. Rob West says that’s not as easy as it sounds, but you may be able to save $100 per month.
- “Best if used by or before” means the date when the product has the best quality or flavor. It’s not referring to safety. Most foods can be consumed after those dates. Note that this does NOT apply to infant formula and baby foods.
- You might also see a “sell by” date on a package. In most states, that’s just a suggestion and the item can still be sold after that date, often at a reduced price.
- A “freeze by” date means the date by which the item should be frozen to maintain optimum quality. Again, with the exception of baby products, none of these labels is an indication of the safety of food items.
- How to know when an item is safe
- According to the U.S.D.A, foods not showing signs of spoilage should be okay to use depending on the individual item and the temperature where it’s stored. One other exception to this is eggs. Some states prohibit “sell by” dates on eggs and some require more restrictive “expiration dates.” In any case, it’s probably best to not use eggs after any type of end date.
- How long should items last? Here are some examples:
- Fresh eggs in the shell should last 3 to 5 weeks in the fridge.
- Bacon – 7 days refrigerated or a month in the freezer.
- Raw hamburger – 1 to 2 days refrigerated or 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
- Steaks are at their peak for 3 to 5 days refrigerated, and 6 to 12 months if frozen.
- Cooked Fish – 3 to 4 days refrigerated or 4 to 6 months in the freezer.
- Raw Chicken & Turkey – 1 to 2 days refrigerated or 9 to 12 months in the freezer.
- Fresh Shrimp, Scallops or Squid – 1 to 2 days refrigerated or 3 to 6 months frozen.
- Foods that may last … indefinitely:
- Honey – It has antimicrobial properties and if it’s sealed and stored in a cool place out of sunlight, you could leave it to heirs in your will. I think they found some in the ancient pyramids that still looked good.
- Canned goods – As long as the can doesn’t have rust, dents or swelling, it should be okay. Packaged foods like cereals are also good well past their “best by” dates, although they can develop an “off” flavor.
- Factory-sealed maple syrup lasts indefinitely, but once opened, keep it refrigerated.
- Salt is itself a preservative but usually comes with a “use by” date of 5 years. After that, it may pick up a bad taste.
- Dried Beans are good for 10 years if stored in a cool place, out of sunlight, in factory packaging or sealed buckets with reduced oxygen levels.
- Whole grains have a one-year shelf life if frozen, or 6 months in a cool, dry location in airtight containers.
On this program, Rob also answers listener questions:
- I grew up in the foster care program and don’t have many resources. I need surgery for chronic pain I’ve been suffering from for several years. How can I find the money to help pay for this surgery?
- I’ve inherited some money and need to know where to put it. I’m a little concerned with putting it into the stock market given recent volatility. What would you recommend?
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