Are Expired Foods Safe To Eat?


I recently cleaned out my cupboards and threw away 3 boxes of macaroni and cheese. The dates on them were well past a year. My daughter no longer asks me to make her mac and cheese, which makes me nostalgic.

She loved it when I would cut up hot dogs and mix those in.

My husband noticed the missing boxes and asked me what happened to them. I told him and he got all huffy about it.

“But those were for emergencies, the oh no we have nothing left to eat stash!”

I am weird about expiration dates, I’ll admit it. Having worked in many industrial-sized kitchens and having a mother who is also weird about food going bad, my natural instinct is to toss it out.

I decided to investigate further. I found some information in this article on the topic.

  • ‘Sell by.’ This is the date by which manufacturers suggest that retailers remove the product from shelves. The goal is to ensure quality for a period of time after you buy it. That can be several days to several weeks, depending on the item. For instance, milk, assuming proper refrigeration, should last five to seven days past its sell-by date before turning sour.
  • ‘Best by’ and ‘use by.’ Those terms tell you when to eat (or freeze) a product for the best quality. A jar of salsa may not taste as fresh and tangy as it’s supposed to, for example, and crackers may be soft instead of crisp after those dates.

Hmmm. They might taste funky but not be dangerous to consume.

Maybe I had been a little too quick to discard those boxes of mac and cheese. When you’re really hungry, even powdered cheese sounds like a gourmet meal.





The next time you go through your cabinets and see that a can of corn is past its due date, I say open it. I wasted at least 3 dollars tossing good mediocre food away, which is not the thrifty diva way.

Do you have any thoughts on expired foods? Let us know in the comments!

16 thoughts on “Are Expired Foods Safe To Eat?

  1. Canned foods I’ve kept up to a year past the date and longer. I open it up, give it a look and a good sniff, if I have doubt I throw it out and always have a backup plan. From getting out of date food from the food pantry for the last several years I’m a pretty good judge of what to keep and what to throw. Canned stuff is always kept the longest, meat I throw out if expired or even slightly looks bad, same for poultry. I have boxes of mac and cheese almost a year over the date, they are still ‘good’, of course, we are talking pasta and fake powdered cheese, I swear that stuff will outlast anything. 😉
    Anything that has to be refrigerated I do the look and sniff test.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to take a class from the Health Department for a previous job and we were told that 7 days is a good number for any leftovers. As for expiration dates, she was kind of vague. I’ll let them go a little over, but I’d say 3 months is the max for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to eat bubble gum from the old, unsold packs of 80’s baseball cards they were practically giving away in the late 90’s. I’m sure that stuff was well past its expiration date…

    I’m one of those waste not, want not people who would like to ignore expiration dates, but a lot of the non-cookable stuff I let sit unopened past its printed date generally tastes bad. Pepsi was a nasty wang to it even a few weeks before its sell-by date. The bag of oyster crackers I neglected until a few months after its date tasted like marshmallows…

    That said… I’m still using the Country Crock tub I bought 2 (or maybe 3) years ago to dab onto my veggies before putting them in the microwave (Yes, I rarely eat veggies, which is why I still have the fake butter). Also, I never throw out “expired” pain medication. I always heard that, at worst, it merely loses some of its strength… it doesn’t become unsafe to take. I’ve calmed many a bad back with years-old naproxen pills….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s