Let’s have a little chat about how closely you pay attention to those little dates stamped on your food packages. There are a variety of different dates stamped on our food ranging from sell-by dates through to use-by and best before. The NHS explains some of the differences here (for instance sell by dates are more signs for stores to remove items for sale whereas a use by date is an estimation of which point the product will spoil) but so often they can be seen as a sign to chuck food straight in the bin as though a magic filthy food klaxon has gone off. I like to call this ‘sell by date syndrome’, whereby a consumer blindly throws out a product way before the offending item reaches any kind of danger period whatsoever just because the date on the back says so.
Now I’m not suggesting eating meat which has been languishing at the back of your fridge for a month or week old seafood however, I myself am perfectly happy to eat sausages which are a couple of days past their use by date and cheese – well cheese has mould sliced off and discarded whilst the rest is happily eaten! You were given a nose for a reason, use it. Be sensible but yes, have a sniff and look for signs to see if the items is suitable for use. The sheer number of people I come across who will throw away a block of butter the day after the use by date has passed (when the butter has no signs of turning bad) is utterly astonishing. It’s these types of actions which make me cry out for sensible teaching and a return in old fashioned Home Economics classes.
Of course many of us have differing ideas of which food products we’re happy to push the expiration date on. I for instance am incredibly sniffy about fish after bad food poisoning and Mr Thrifty’s stomach turns at the very idea of cream even on the boarders of passable after a horrendous experience some years ago. But there has to come a point where we take a bit of responsibility for ourselves, grasp a spot of sensible thinking and look past *some* of those dates. If something is nearing expiration and we show no signs of using it, we make moves to stop it heading toward the bin. Fresh food popped into the freezer where possible and other items are cooked and refrigerated or used for lunches and meal plans often face a rejig to incorporate ingredients which are likely to soon turn bad. Throwing something out just because it takes a few minutes to think up a sensible option to save it from the bin, is wasteful and selfish. How closely do you pay attention to use by dates? What are your at home policies? Let’s have a discussion in the comments below. This is the 3rd post in my series FEB-U-WASTE-ARY in which we talk about cutting waste in our home and lives.