In my experience, there are two types of people in this world – people who regard expiration dates as guidelines, and people who toss stuff out a few days ahead of the stamped-on-date, just in case.
If you’re the latter type, this list should save you a few bucks and put your mind at ease. If you’re the former, well, it will give you ammunition against the premature milk-tossers in your life. So take a gander.
Keep it: 2-3 months unopened, 1-2 months opened.
Butter that’s fortified with oil will last about twice as long as pure butter (did you know you can keep the pure stuff on the counter?), and margarine lasts even longer than that – 2-3 months opened, 4-5 months unopened.
Protein takes a while to break down, so eggs resting in unbroken shells can last 3-4 weeks past their expiration date.
#3. Deli Meat
Your deli meat can last about a week past the expiration dates – fresh cut meats are often labeled with a “sell by” date which is just for the grocer’s reference. Use your common sense (and your senses) to determine when your meat has gone over – if it’s slimy, be careful and if it smells sour, it’s time to toss it.
#2. Canned Vegetables
Sodium and other preservatives in canned vegetables mean they can keep a long time – 1-2 years past their stamped date. If your lid is starting to bubble or your veggies look brown or blackened, get rid of them.
Most boxes of cereal can last months past the printed date, as long as you use good storage techniques. If you store them well, cereal can last 4-5 months opened and 6-8 months unopened.