Food experts reveal the kitchen staples that can be safely eaten after their sell-by dates so you can save money without tossing food in the trash.
Save $2.50 Per Dozen Eggs
Rather than use the “best by” date as a guide to your eggs’ shelf life, check the three-digit number on the end of the carton that represents the day of the year it was packed (January 1 being 001 and December 31 being 365). “Eggs refrigerated at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower can be eaten five weeks past this date,” says Oscar Garrison, senior vice president of food safety regulatory affairs for United Egg Producers.
Tip: Eggs can be frozen up to one year. Just remove them from the shell, beat until blended, then place in a sealed container and freeze!
Save $4 Per Gallon of Milk
Knowing how long milk can really last will ensure you never waste a drop! According to Sam Alcaine, Ph.D., assistant professor of dairy fermentations at Cornell University, an unopened container of milk can last three to five days past its expiration date, and once opened, if continually refrigerated below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it can last about a week from that day. “Just pay attention to smell, taste, appearance and texture.”
Tip: Frozen milk will last up to three months, says Alcaine. Simply freeze it in small serving-size batches so you only thaw what you need since you shouldn’t refreeze thawed milk.
Save $2 Per Canned Food
No need to trash unopened cans of corn, beans and other foods (and waste $1–$2) just because they’ve reached their “best if used by” date. “I’ve had canned food that was fine to eat a year later, and others that were good four years later,” says Eric Fairbanks, quality assurance manager for the canned food supplier Pacific Coast Producers. “The tight seal keeps air and light out, so once you open it, if it smells and looks normal, it’s fine!”
Tip: If the can is bulging (a sign of bacterial growth inside) or the color or smell is off, toss it.
Save Up to $10 Per Pound of Meat
Your best bet to making meat (likely your most pricey purchase) last? Freeze it, says Janeal Yancey, Ph.D., a meat scientist at the University of Arkansas. “Ground meat can stay in the freezer for three to six months and whole-muscle cuts (like steaks and roasts) for up to one year!” Don’t like to wait for meat to defrost?
Keep this in mind: vacuum-sealed, whole-muscle cuts stay fresh in the fridge for four weeks from purchase and ground beef in foam trays with plastic wrap are good for one to two days while raw, but once cooked they’re still safe to eat after three to four days in the fridge!
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.