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One question that may be on your mind as you consider throwing food away is: “Is it still safe to eat?”
Some of the guidelines for how long a food is safe to eat and how long you can store a cooked food in your refrigerator is up for debate. You may not like bread that’s been frozen as much as fresh bread, but freezing a food keeps it safe indefinitely, as long as the freezer maintains the proper temperature. Quality however, will be impacted. The taste and texture may change after a year in the freezer, and nutrients may be lost as well. However if a food (like bread) is packaged in an airtight bag before frozen, it will still taste very good within a few months.
Think of your freezer as a 1-6 week holding area. It can hold blueberries for a long weekend. Or a few extra hamburger buns until next month when you grill a burger. Not forever.
Best By Dates
Those dates on packaged food often confuse people, and some think that they have a negative impact on food waste. I agree. They’ve always been a guide for quality and freshness, not food safety. However they give the wrong vibes. Here’s what they actually mean:
- Best if Used By or Use Before labels indicate the best flavor and quality is by that date.
- Sell By dates help the store to manage inventory.
- Use By dates are recommendations for peak quality.
- Codes you see on cans allow tracking of the products, helping grocers rotate their stock. They also make it easy to identify recalls.
Stale Bread and Stale Cereal Is Safe to Eat.
Bottom line: that date on your bread is not a “throw into the trash can date”, it’s simply a general guide to peak quality. The bread may even be fresh for another week or more. If there’s no mold, it’s fine to eat.
You might consider making bread crumbs with stale bread, reviving it by running it under water and refreshing it in the oven, or add stale cereal into a snack bar recipe. There are lots of ways to waste less food. Throwing less food away saves you money, saves nutrition, and honors all of the time and resources that went into growing the food or ingredients of the food, and the time and resources it took to process, package, and bring that food to your grocery store. Honor it.
Try this quick trick to renew stale bread: