Luckily there are LOTS of ways you can reduce the amount of food you waste at home, from buying less to being more efficient with what you have lying around. I am going to write about many of the ways you can achieve this over the coming months, but to start, a few words about expiration dates.
There are different kinds of expiration dates:
- "sell-by" = a guide for the store to know how long it can display an item for sale (yogurt, milk, most dairy products are sell-by ....which means if your milk/yogurt/cheese doesn't smell spoiled or look weird, it's probably fine...I don't even look at the date on my dairy products, I just trust my senses, especially with yogurt--which is kind of like spoiled milk anyway--usually tastes good for up to a month after the date on the carton)
- "best before"or "best by" = refers to the quality or flavor of the food (like jelly/jam, nuts, oils)
- "use by"= this is a true expiration date, after which it's best not to use a product at all (like mayonnaise, meats, etc)
- "use or freeze by" = literally, use it or freeze it by this date; once it's in the freezer, the product will last 3-6 months longer than the date, depending on the type of food)
Remember, the things that give you food poisoning or make you sick are usually colorless, odorless, and tasteless -- so you're not necessarily avoiding illness by throwing away your 1-lb block of cheese that has a tiny speck of mold on it!
Economist Magazine, Nov 26, 2009 (Source for statistics used in this post).