Do You Check the Expiration Dates?

posted by Andrea | 01/4/2012

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I don’t know about you, but whenever I get groceries, I always make a point to check the expiration dates for almost everything I put in the cart — especially anything perishable!

The price of groceries is already high enough, so I figure there is no point spending money on something that’s going to expire before we have time to eat it.

I’ve had a few instances where the items went bad after only 2 days and when I checked the expiration date, I realized I had purchased them ON the expiration date. These items shouldn’t have been on the shelf, so I’m assuming the store just missed them… however, I’m quickly learned that I could simply avoid throwing access food out if I just checked the expiration date before putting it in my cart.

Also, if I do notice that an item is very close to the expiration date {and it’s not already on the discount rack} I’ll ask a manager if I can have a reduced price… and they will often give it to me! Then, I either make a point to use the food soon, or I put it in the freezer. I’m not saying this will work in every store, but you can always try it!

I’ve saved a lot of money {and a lot of wasted food} over the years by taking 5 seconds to check the expiration dates before I put food into my cart.

So I’m wondering…

Do you check the expiration dates of your food?

Do you have any other simple tips for saving money on groceries? {besides using coupons and shopping the sales}

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13 comments

  1. Annette W

    01/04/2012

    At our favorite store for groceries I don’t need to look at dates on milk since we drink four gallons a week. BUT at other stores I have to on milk.

    I look for dates mostly in the dairy aisle and on mayo and dressings.

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  2. Maureen

    01/04/2012

    Always. This past holiday season especially since my husband loves loves eggnog and that goes so quickly.

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  3. Sue

    01/04/2012

    ALWAYS!!!!!!!!!!

    With the price of peanut butter going up.. and stocking up on it to keep the kidos happy.. I was looking for the longest lasting..

    Sue in NJ

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  4. Shelly

    01/04/2012

    I always be sure to check expiration dates when I am buying perishable items. There are even some items that I try not to buy because I know I won’t use it up by the expiration date – sour cream comes to mind here. A lot of times grocery stores or convenience stores are late on rotating their stock, so I have often found milk that is about to expire still on the shelves.

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  5. Jen R

    01/04/2012

    Im a checker and a stalker of the discounted close to expiry date itmes, just ysterday picked up juice, yogurt, sliced meat and garlic bread for about a third of the price, the kids being on holidays are bottemless pits to fill their tums so it will be gone by today :)

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  6. Miranda

    01/04/2012

    Yup, I almost always do. I also never take the item closest to me on the shelf. I always dig to the back to get the freshest item ;).

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  7. Abbie

    01/04/2012

    I always check for the expiration date. I’ve even found food past the expiration date on the shelf. I do the same thing that Miranda does: I dig back to the back for the freshest product.

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  8. Jen F

    01/04/2012

    Having worked in food retail I can tell you that other than dairy/meat the vast majority of dates are completely arbitrary. There is not national or local guideline for them. Just an FYI. Dry goods are often ‘good’ long after their dates provided they are stored in a stable environment and the packaging isn’t opened.

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  9. Karen

    01/05/2012

    I only check on meat and dairy and am happy to buy close to date if the price is reduced and I can use or freeze it right away. Most of what I buy doesn’t have a label to put a date on so I have to use common sense. The dates on products that I have seen are not actually expiry dates, but “best before” dates (the label says so) and I know a lot of people who automatically throw out anything past that date. I think the dates are on a lot of things just to promote turnover, as opposed to a dramatic loss of quality or safety. Great marketing ploy.

    This is not to say that I do not ever have concerns about the freshness of my food. I tend to smell things before consumption. I know it is far from foolproof, but it is a pretty good first step. I have opened milk with over a week to the best before date and been very glad I smelled it before pouring it. I have also opened packages of supposedly fresh chicken that, ummm, wasn’t.

    On the other hand, I have a bag of rice with an expiry date. Not going to worry about that one. I store it airtight, cool and dry. I also buy a lot of things from the farmer, like produce and honey. I might home can the produce and put the date I canned it on the lid to make sure I use the oldest first. I get a large container of honey and transfer it to smaller ones which I don’t date. It will be about a year before I buy it again and I will have the last jar upstairs by then.

    I think we all should know what fresh food looks, feels, smells and tastes like so we don’t rely on information on a package. Quite frankly, I just plain don’t trust what the package says. The unpackaged things at least are telling me no lies.

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  10. Ann

    01/05/2012

    I have no problem using canned or bottled items past their dates. We often have expired meds as well. I figure they may be a little less potent but will not likely be dangerous. If I can freeze things (meat) I often buy at or just past date to save money. Things like sour cream I figure are already sour so as long as I consume it quickly once opened, I don’t pay attention to the date. (Same as croutons. How can stale bread get any more stale?) If it can save me money and I don’t feel like the date has much relevance, I ignore it.

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  11. Suzanne

    01/06/2012

    Isn’t this so true, and I keep forgetting! Just last week I bought little cups of pears, with a coupon, got home to find something drippy, saw it was these, saw the expiration of Nov of 2011. It was so old the seal had broken and the were even stinky! Really? I didn’t want to keep them to return either. I’d done so well to try to save on them and had to throw them away.

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  12. Heather

    01/16/2012

    I check the dates on just about everything but especially milk, butter, yogurt etc. It only took one time when I did not check the dates on some yogurt, only to get home and realize the best buy date was the next day–I definitely learned my lesson!

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  13. Kelekona

    02/27/2012

    I think that the only thing I actively look at is milk, and only a glance to see if there is one farther date in the row. I am in-tune with how interesting the milk tastes since I buy gallons and occasionally waste the last amount. (There is a point where milk is undrinkable but works for cooking.)

    Sour cream, yogurt, they’re aged milk so they probably have larger windows than we think. I know that open containers don’t resist green fuzz as long as advertised.

    There are times when I find marked-down meat and really think about it. Other times I store meat beyond the sell-buy date and just overcook it to make up for the dead smell.

    I’ve also kept the same carton of eggs for 4 months without issue.

    I going to look into asking for discounts on close-dated food… might be able to score a deal since my digestion can handle slightly-rotten food.

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