Save cash and food with these 4 tips on food expiration dates

Lifestyle The List
By: Jimmy Rhoades | Frenchie Aguilh Posted: 7:31 PM, Aug 7, 2017

We've all been there: You pour a bowl of cereal, only to realize you have no idea how old that is. So you check the date only to find: "Sell by 8/25/17" or maybe "Best before 8/25/17"? But what do those even mean? Can I eat this cereal or not? If you're tired of getting confused by expiration dates on your food, Jimmy Rhoades and expert Lisa Yakas have the 4 things you need to know that'll save you food and cash – and save you from getting sick.

1. Sell By Dates

These dates let stores know how long they can display a food for sale. These items will last a few weeks longer than this date, so you can still dig in at home, or buy it from the store. If you're a little close to the sell by date, but really want that loaf of bread, try to grab it from the back of the store's shelf for a better chance at a fresher item.

And make sure you keep an eye out for any changes in color, texture, or smell as time goes on.

2. Use By and Expiration Dates

These dates indicate saftey, so you'd better heed their warnings. Make sure to use or freeze items with these dates, by the date printed. You could try to risk it, but you increase your chances of getting a food-borne illness like ecoli or salmonella – gross.

3. Best Used By or Best Before

These dates are more indicators of quality than safety. They let you know that your food might be at its peak deliciousness by the date printed – but, like sell by dates, you can still eat the food after the printed date, as long as it's been handled and stored properly.

And again, make sure you stay vigilant for changes in smells or look of the item after opening.

4. After Opening

After you crack open your food, the use by and expiration dates do still apply – you still have to eat the food by the expiration date, even if it's been protected in a tupperware container in the fridge. 

As for the other dates, it's all about using your eyes (and maybe nose) to detect any changes in the quality of the food.

On a scale of 1-5, how confusing do you find food expiration dates? Join the conversation on our Facebook page, @TheListShowTV.