It's a massive pet peeve of mine. People throwing away perfectly good food because the "best before" date has passed, and think that the food is spoiled and will give them food poisoning if they eat it. I remember seeing on the news not too long ago a segment about food waste. Someone went around interviewing people who were grocery shopping, and this one woman in particular made my blood boil. She said that she throws away literally everything that "has been spoiled according to the best before date".
I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions regarding how quickly some foods become moldy, sour and spoiled, and now I want to clear them up with the help of a little myTake.
Know the difference!
There are two different kinds of statements that can be made on food labels. One is the "best before" date, and the other is the "expiration" (or "use by") date. The best before date means that the quality of the food will be the best before date x, and after date x has passed, the quality of the product will slowly decrease until it's entirely spoiled. This means that it might not taste as good 2 or 3 days after the best before date, but technically it's still safe to eat and won't give you any trouble. The expiration date however, is more definite. It is usually printed on labels for foods that are more sensitive, such as different kinds of meat. But most foods still only have a "best before" date. I've had a glass of milk from a carton that was 4 or 5 days "old", and it was fine. It tasted a bit refrigerator-y but it was definitely not spoiled.
Does the food pass your personal test?
There are 3 things you can check/test before cooking/eating/drinking the food if you're unsure about the date and quality.
1. Does it smell good or neutral? If the smell doesn't want to make you vomit, or if you can't smell anything at all, chances are that it's still fine to eat or drink.
2. Does it look good? Check for mold or other signs of the food having gone bad. You can google the different signs if you're unsure of what exactly you're looking for. Also keep in mind that meat, for example, can change its color over time, but that doesn't necessarily affect its taste because there are lots of different factors that determine the color of the meat. So red meat doesn't always = freshness, and brown meat doesn't always = spoiled.
3. If all else fails, taste a little of the food or drink. Tasting a tiny bit of it won't make you sick, especially if the food has passed the above tests. It's unlikely that it'll taste really bad if it doesn't smell or look bad. If it doesn't taste bad, it's probably still fine to eat, especially if it also passes the smell and look test.
Here are some other tips that will help you minimize the amount of food you waste and throw away.
♡ Try to not go grocery shopping while you're hungry. You're a lot more likely to make impulsive decisions when you're hungry, and you'll overestimate just how much food you really need. The worst thing you can do is buy too much, get home, eat dinner, and suddenly realize that you only needed 1 pizza for dinner, not 3.
♡ Have an "empty the fridge" day every week, or every other week. This is the day you'll just eat leftovers. There are a lot of different recipes out there that focus on utilizing your leftovers and making something delicious out of them. My parents often make "pyttipanna" out of the stuff that's left over, i.e. they throw everything that's left into a frying pan, heat it up, season it and then serve it. It's usually a mix of vegetables, potatoes/pasta, meats and eggs.
♡ Make a shopping list and stick to it when you go to the grocery store. If you go grocery shopping without a solid plan, chances are that you'll either buy things you might not need, or things that don't go well together. You might also forget the basic foods you've run out of and need, and that's not good either. Having a list also helps you visualize what you'll eat for the week and how much food you really need, so you won't end up buying too much or too little.
♡ USE THE FREEZER! I live alone and there are plenty of foods (such as bread) that aren't sold in smaller quantities. Eating an entire loaf of bread might take me 2 weeks, or maybe even 3 if I'm not in a very bread-loving mood, and it feels wasteful to only have a slice or two before it becomes moldy and I have to throw it out. So I just pop it into the freezer and toast it when I feel like having some bread. It's super helpful and the bread can last for a couple of months in there. You can also do this with meat, pasta, rice, fruits... anything really!
That's it. Feel free to make a comment if you have any other helpful tips I didn't mention!