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Food Tips: Expiration Dates 101

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Expiration dates on food can be confusing. Many resort to following their own common sense guidelines when packaging labels are indecipherable, particularly to avoid wasting food. None of us want to be wasteful in a troubled economy when the cost of food is continually rising. Rising food costs make budget-friendly recipes more important than ever. However, creating our own rules isn’t necessarily safe or recommended. To empower our readers to make everyone a bit smarter about expiration dates on food, here are some food expiration dates guidelines.

Use by/ Sell by/ Best Before: (according to the USDA)

  • “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
  • ”Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • ”Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
  • ”Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

Dates on Egg Cartons:
  • According to the USDA, it’s recommended to purchase eggs before the “Sell-By” or “EXP” date on the carton. After you get the eggs home, refrigerate them in their carton and put them in the coldest part of your fridge. To eat the eggs at peak quality, use them within 3 to 5 weeks of the date you purchased the.

Refrigeration Storage for Fresh and Uncooked Products: (USDA information)
  • Poultry: 1 or 2 days
  • Beef, Veal, Pork and Lamb: 3 to 5 days
  • Ground Meat and Ground Poultry: 1 or 2 days
  • Fresh meats (liver, tongue, brain, kidney, heart, chitterlings): 1 or 2 days
  • Cured Ham, Cook-Before-Eating: 5 to 7 days
  • Sausage from Pork, Beef, or Turkey, Uncooked: 1 or 2 days
  • Eggs: 3 to 5 weeks

Clean-Out-Your-Pantry Recipes & Kitchen Sink Recipes:

You can get rid of leftovers and foods left in your pantry with clean-out-your-pantry recipes. We’ve got a slow cooker recipe suggestion from Their recipe for Clean-Out-The-Pantry Minestrone Soup is a slow cooker soup recipe that’s great if you’re cleaning out your house and want to make dinner using ingredients you already have in your pantry. This slow cooker minestrone soup recipe is an all-day recipe. Prep it and go about your day.

Our friends at have a tasty casserole recipe that also uses ingredients you have around the house. Their recipe for a Kitchen Sink Rice Bake includes a colorful array of healthy veggies that you likely already have in your fridge or freezer. The casserole also includes savory ham and cheese.

This recipe for Easy Pantry Tuna Penne from only takes 10 minutes to cook and includes ingredients you’ll likely already have around the house, including garlic, olive oil, canned tomatoes, tuna and more. It’s a tasty, one-pot dish that your family will devour.

For more great food tips, we recommend you check out:

Which foods confuse you when examining expiration dates?


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