Before you toss out that grub that’s been sitting in your fridge a day or two after the expiration date, think again! A recent study at the University of Minnesota reported that Americans throw away at least 160 billion pounds of food – even though much of it is still good to eat.
In response to food-safety concerns, many manufacturers began printing dates on their products back in the 1970s, however, since there was no regulated system for adding the info, many of us may be reading these dates and abiding by their “suggestions” a little too closely. For instance, the “best by date” suggests that a food’s flavor and quality will be optimal until this date. A couple of days later certainly wont kill you. Same goes for the suggested “sell by date”: this date simply lets the supermarkets know when it’s time to rotate their stock and is not meant to communicate anything to consumers. A “use before” label indicates that a food’s flavor and quality will be at it’s peak before this date, but food with this lane is still cool to devour a few days later.
While date labels may be open to some interpretation, the one thing that plays a major role in food safety is you! How fast you transport perishable items from the supermarket to your refrigerator, whether you store and defrost it at the appropriate temperatures, and how well you wash, prep and cook your food all matter. For instance raw chicken will only last in your fridge 1-2 days, however pop it in the freezer and you have nine months to figure out if you want to grill it or bake it. That multi-grain bread you love can live in your pantry for 5-7 days, however if you want to make it last longer put your sandwich staple in the freezer and get three months out of it.
Bring Your Food Back To Life
Your favorite grub may be past it’s prime, but before you toss it, try these quick tips in order to bring it’s flavor and freshness back to life:
1. Revive chips that have lost their crispness by baking them at 250 degrees for 3-5 minutes
2. Soften stale bread by wrapping it slice by slice in a damp paper towel and microwaving it for a few seconds.
3. Cut off the discolored parts of lettuce and soak the rest in ice water for 10 minutes. Hello! Crisp again!
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether to eat or toss food after that date on it has come and gone, is to use your five senses. If something looks, smells or tastes bad, it probably is. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and throw out food that seems questionable — food poisoning is never fun! But there’s likely a lot of items in your ‘fridge that don’t have to go to waste.
Robbie Ann Darby (RAD Experience) is a professional FitGirl, Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in NYC. Follow her sweaty life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more fun health and fitness tips!
Check Out This Gallery Of Vegetarian Recipes You Should Try!
21 Vegetarian Recipes To Jumpstart Your Healthy Eating
1. Nutritious & Delicious Vegetarian Recipes
Thanks to Emily Wilson, Executive Culinary Director of Cooking Planit, we've got some amazing vegetarian recipes that will make you forget you're not having meat! The site and app provide you with step-by-step instructions to create full meals with every dish. Kickstart your healthy eating in 2014 with a few of our fave veggie recipes! Check out Cooking Planit here: http://www.cookingplanit.com/
2. Brown Sugar Sprouts With Cranberries & Walnuts
Sweeten up sprouts with this caramelized, buttery sauce. So good and truly hard to resist. Check out the recipe: http://bit.ly/1l7NKIr
3. Nachos Al Fresco
Nachos don't have to be a huge pile of messiness. They can be light, crispy, cheesy, spicy and flavorful, like these fresh ingredient nachos that are an easy way to put a fun dinner on the table. Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1izM9Lx
4. Sweet Potato Kale Pot Pie
This recipe takes pot pie to the next level, dressing it up and making it perfect for any special occasion. Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/19QkLkg
5. Parmesan Pearl Couscous
Think of this dish as risotto but without all the cooking and stirring. It's creamy and starchy like risotto, but cooks in less than 15 minutes. Check out the recipe: http://bit.ly/Jzc8UO
6. Sprout, Sweet Potato & Apple Saute
So many flavors in this easy side dish recall the tastes of fall and crisp, cool weather. Of course, this tastes good all year round too! Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1d68w9w
7. Beet Gratin
Creamy goat cheese and earthy walnuts add texture and flavor to the roasted beets for a truly delicious side dish. Check out the yummy recipe here: http://bit.ly/1i2nLQ7
8. Beet & Frisee Salad
There are so many ingredients in this salad, it really makes a full meal: pumpernickel croutons, pistachios, goat cheese and kale. It's the kitchen-sink salad! Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1d62OEn
9. Bucatini Taragon Cream Sauce
This dish was inspired by a restaurant meal I ate, although I left out the lobster to make it a bit more everyday-friendly. It's surprisingly easy for a dish that feels out of the ordinary. Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1izEVHv
10. Mexican Tortilla "Pizza"
What a fun recipe! It's crispy, cheesy and vegetarian, but feel free to add some ground beef or chicken for a meat lovers' treat! Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/KnvAV6
11. Portobello Stack With Artichokes, Red Pepper & Walnut Goat Cheese
This is a great vegetarian entree, or serve it as a stunning first course. With so many flavors, it's sure to please all taste buds! Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1bE2Sow
12. Root Vegetable Tian
This is an easy and healthy recipe. It's great for parties too because you can build the tian in advance, then just pop it in the oven when guests arrive. Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1bE2Sow
13. Brussels Sprout Salad With Buttermilk Dressing
A surprise combination of flavors with sweet and juicy grapes, hearty sprouts, crunchy almonds and a fresh and vibrant minted dressing makes this salad totally out of this world. Check out the easy recipe here: http://bit.ly/1lFcLYJ
14. Spicy Mango Apple Chutney
Sweet and spicy! Chutney is possibly the best condiment. Serve this on top of fish or chicken, spread it on Cilantro Naan, or use it in a grilled cheese or as a dip for chips. Check out the recipe here:
15. Spinach Mango Salad
Bursting with fresh flavors, this salad is slightly sweet and deliciously savory for a well-balanced and exciting side salad. Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1l7NKIr
16. Walnut Pesto Orecchiette
Nutty, cheesy pasta that's easy and interesting! Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/JOQ1JE
17. Roasted Beets
Once you've had a properly roasted beet, you'll love them unconditionally. This is a basic recipe that will show you how to add beets to any meal. Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/JOS0h2
18. Zucchini Lasagna
Your taste buds are going to be so happy that they won't have any idea what a healthful meal they are experiencing. Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1crt1KT
19. Kale & Crispy Chickpeas
Kale is amazingly versatile, and sauteing it in this recipe makes it the perfect companion for the crispy chickpeas. This dish is hearty, healthy and delicious! Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/19FngLO
20. Cucumber Gazpacho
Refreshingly light yet delightfully creamy, this vegan-friendly soup will have you smitten for the summer. Check out recipe here: http://bit.ly/19TyYjz
21. Roasted Red Pepper Basil Alfredo
Robust red peppers add dimension and flavor to classic, creamy Alfredo sauce for a super delish pasta dish. Check out the recipe: http://bit.ly/1gxHqqK
22. Green Beans & Shallots
A quick way to dress up green beans for an easy side dish. Check out the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1crdrPl