- Some food spoils quicker than others, and it’s not always obvious which foods you should actually toss on their expiration date.
- According to experts, some foods can last for weeks after their expiration date has passed.
- A simple change in environment or storage container can help make your food last longer.
Navigating what’s edible in your fridge after it’s been a week or so since your last trip to the grocery store can feel like such a struggle. If produce doesn’t look or smell funky, should you still eat it? And what about the contents of your freezer? Are those clumps of ice just shavings or freezer burn?
And while it’s an important skill to be able to identify whether or not something is actually safe to eat between its initial time of purchase and your next restock, it’s also beneficial to know what foods last longer than you think – if not for anything else but budgeting purposes.
To save you the guesswork, and possibly a few dollars here and there, INSIDER reached out to experts to get the lowdown on which foods have a lengthy shelf life.
Dried pasta can last up to 10 years in your pantry.
As long as you store pasta that’s been opened in tightly-sealed, Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health told INSIDER that dried pasta can last an entire decade at room temperature.
Maple syrup’s colour might fade over time, but its flavour can last up to four years.
“Syrup has similar properties to honey and the sugar content acts as a preservative,” Glatter said. It may fade and lose its original colour, he explained, but it will still be safe to eat as long as it’s stored in glass bottles.
Certain kinds of nuts will stay fresh anywhere between four to seven months.
Because the oils in the nuts act as natural preservatives, Glatter told INSIDER that almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, and filberts can last up to seven months in your pantry if stored at room temperature. And, if sealed well, putting the container in the fridge might extend their shelf life up to a year.
All-purpose flour stays good for one year.
Seal your package up in between uses, and a bag of flour can last you an entire year’s time, Glatter said.
Dried fruit has a shelf life of half a decade.
Dried fruit has been stripped of moisture, and because bacteria thrives off damp, mushy foods, it’s very unlikely for bacteria to spread over this snack. Due to this clever detail, Glatter told INSIDER that packaged, dried fruits are safe to pick at for five years.
Potatoes can stay good for up to four months, but you’ll know if it’s time to toss them.
Surprisingly, spuds have a pretty long shelf-life, too. When stored in cool, dark spaces, Glatter told INSIDER potatoes can last anywhere between three to four months at a time. You’ll want to keep an eye on their sprouts, though, because once they grow high Glatter said it’s best to re-think consumption.
Canned meat basically has no expiration date.
Canned meats and fish like tuna, salmon, and spam, have indefinite shelf-lives as long as the packaging stays intact. Otherwise, Glatter said, they can “last forever,” in theory.
When stored properly, honey can last for centuries.
Experts from the National Honey Board told INSIDER that honey stays edible for decades, even centuries – but there’s a catch. Nature’s natural sweetener is highly susceptible to physical and chemical changes, and if stored incorrectly can darken, lose its aroma, flavour, and/or crystallize.
Still, that’s not to say the honey becomes inedible. As per the National Honey Board, crystallization is a natural process in which the glucose in honey precipitates out of the liquid honey. You can still consume it, but if the crystallization bothers you, spokespersons from the board told INSIDER that placing the honey jar in warm water and stirring will dissolve the crystals.
You can still eat eggs from a carton weeks after their expiration date.
Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, and a nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition told INSIDER that given your carton is free of cracks, eggs will last up to three weeks in the fridge after their expiration date.
A container of sprinkles can last a lifetime.
Have you ever noticed how long it used to take your mum to go through an entire container or shaker bottle of sprinkles? It probably felt like forever because it was forever. Moren said sprinkles don’t have an expiration date, so don’t worry about having to toss and restock this beloved topping.
A jar of clarified butter will surpass a traditional stick’s shelf-life.
Ghee has become a buzz-worthy cooking staple as of late and for good reason, considering Morena told INSIDER a tightly sealed jar of the stuff has virtually no expiration date when stored in the fridge.
You can keep that hunk of parmesan for up to a year.
Add a container or wheel of parmesan to your refrigerator drawer, and Moren said that because this type of cheese is so low in moisture, it will last a solid year if you seal it tight enough.
Apples last longer in the fridge.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? So stock up, but instead of placing them atop your kitchen counter, take them out of the grocery store’s plastic bag and keep them in a refrigerator drawer. Ysabel Montemayor,Fresh n’ Lean‘s registered dietitian said this tip will double their shelf life, making them edible for up to two months.
Onions thrive in cool conditions.
Typically produce spoils quickly, but in the right conditions, Summer Yule, MS, RDN told INSIDER onions, specifically, can stay good for months.
“According to the Foodkeeper app at foodsafety.gov onions can last for one month in a cool, dry pantry or two months in the refrigerator,” Yule said. But onions that are kept fresh and safe from damage, are said to last “six to seven months,” she added.
Jars of processed peanut butter hold their own, too.
You might not assume so, but store-bought jars of peanut butter can last up to three months sitting in your pantry or kitchen cabinet. As long as they’re in dark, cool conditions, Claudia Sidoti, the head chef at HelloFresh, told INSIDER your safe to keep spreading the stuff on your morning toast.
Dry oatmeal is a pantry staple that thrives long after its expiration date.
Grains, in general, will last you quite a while but registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Grace Derocha said that oats, specifically, last three weeks after their expiration date if kept in airtight containers in dark, dry, cool spaces.
Frozen veggies outlast any item in the produce section.
Not only can frozen vegetables stay good for a whopping 18 months in the freezer, Derocha told INSIDER that because they’re packed and frozen at their peak freshness, but they’re also likely more nutritious than fresh produce.
Dry legumes last forever.
Sitting pretty on your pantry shelf, Derocha said that dry lentils, beans, and other legumes last indefinitely with proper storage. The only blip you’d have to worry about is needing to cook them longer as time goes on.
Cured meats are protected from the decaying process and last longer in the fridge.
The director of culinary development and Chef de Cuisine at Fairway Market Cafe, Vincent Olivieri told INSIDER that curing meats like ham, sausage, salamis, and more put a prolonging effect on the protein as the salt bath removes moisture from the food and protects it from decaying. As a result, something like dry sausage, for example, can last in its natural casing for months, if not years in the fridge.
Bread stales in the fridge, but will thrive in the freezer.
When you first buy a loaf of bread, keeping it at room temperature will maximise its freshness, but after only a few days or so, the pieces might get stale or start to mould. Instead of sticking it in the fridge – which Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RDN told INSIDER is a major mistake – slice it up and store whatever’s left of the loaf in your freezer.
“Nothing makes bread taste stale faster than refrigeration, even if one positive by-product is decreasing the rate that mould forms. And it’s actually due to the chemistry and the evaporation of water and tightening of bonds that make bread taste stale after being refrigerated,” Bazillian explained. “However, if you freeze the bread and then either thaw it (by the slice or however much you use for a time period or meal) and use it soon thereafter, it will still taste fresh.”
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