11 Foods You Can Most Likely Eat After Their Sell-By Date

Hate throwing out food that you suspect might still be edible? Or do you throw out food two days before or after its expiration date? It hurts to throw money away, but it would hurt more to get a food-borne illness so you purge your fridge and pantry wondering if you’re doing the right thing.

Sometimes you are, and sometimes you’re not. There are some foods that can withstand that stamped “sell by” or “use by” date and won’t send you running to the toilet (or ER). To take the guesswork out of the process for you, we’re running down some common food items that are good to go for a period beyond those dates.

What you may not know is that food manufacturers are not regulated in terms of use by dates, so they are making an educated guess based on factors like production, transport, and purchase date. Fortunately, you can take your safety into your own hands with this guide. Oh, and learn to love your freezer.

  1. Chips

    I’m not sure how a bag of chips would survive past a week, but in the off chance that you’re sitting on a bag beyond its expiration date, you’re okay. Chips are good unopened for a couple months past their prime and will last a few weeks if open and stored properly. Keep the air out unless you like ‘em stale.

  2. Cheese

    Who cut the cheese? Because cheese has its own er, unique smell, skip that step and use your eyes. With the exception of hard Cheddar or Parmesan blocks, get rid of moldy cheese.

    Cheddar can last up to 2 months past its “done” date in the fridge unopened and up to 6 weeks if opened. Asiago or Parmesan can go up to 4 months past their date if refrigerated and longer if frozen.

  3. Eggs

    Usually, you can rely on smell to tell you if eggs are rotten. But once that due date has flashed by, do the float test. Drop an egg into a glass of water, and if floats, it’s no good. That’s because oxygen has penetrated the shell, causing it to spoil. In general, eggs are good for 3 to 4 weeks past their packing date.

  4. Cereal

    Personally, I’m not a fan of stale cereal so once it’s open, it needs to get eaten. If you have a buffet of multiple open cereals, then store them in airtight containers in a cool place for up to 6 months.

  5. Yogurt

    You do want to check your yogurt for mold whether it’s a dairy or dairy-free version. Still, you only have a week or two to play with after the date passes with unopened yogurt. With an open container, give it about one extra week past its due date.

  6. Chocolate

    If you can find a date on chocolate, you can still eat it up to 4 months after that day if you leave it out. If you put it in the fridge, don’t touch it past 6 months after its deadline. That weird white color on it is from sugar or fat crystallizing on it but it’s still edible!

  7. Bread

    Do you buy pre-packaged bread in bulk? It’s only good for a week past its due date if stored at room temperature. When frozen, 6 months is the mark.

  8. Grains

    Staples like rice, flour, and pasta are often stored in the refrigerator to preserve freshness. Dry bags of white rice are good for up to 5 years past their stamp. If kept in the fridge, brown varieties are god for 8 to 12 months.

    In the pantry, brown rice is only good up to 8 months. Flour can survive 6 to 8 months past its prime and dry, unopened pasta can be saved up to 2 years after its printed date.

  9. Frozen Produce

    Barring any icy fuzz, your frozen fruits and veggies can live up to 10 months in your freezer beyond their best by date.

  10. Tea

    Dry tea can be stored in the pantry or freezer. When its print date passes, it will be good for 6 to 12 months if kept in the pantry or up to 2 years if frozen.

  11. Spreads and Condiments

    Peanut butter is good for one year after its use-by date whether you keep it out or in the fridge. Open jars of jellies and jams in the refrigerator can be eaten up to 9 or 12 months after their use-by dates.

    If for some magical reason you’re able to keep ketchup or mustard around, they are good for about a year (opened) after their dates. Mustard can last even longer if it’s not open.

Do you like to take chances with the expired food in your home? Do you habitually waste food that you think has gone bad? Which of these items will you double check in the future?