One of the hallmarks of being frugal, at least in my opinion, is not caring a great deal about expiration dates. I have known people who will throw away a carton of milk just because the date of expiration has passed by a day or two, when the milk tastes just fine. That’s silly. You’ll know when milk has gone bad. It tastes horrific. Unless it’s raw milk, then it will just sour naturally and is actually a rather delicious product. But that’s another blog post in of itself for another day.
Over the years, I have made a point to look for groceries that are near the pull date because you can save a lot of money since the items usually go on clearance for a fraction of the cost. A pound of cheese that cost $4 might now be 99 cents. A $5.99 pound of lunchmeat might go for $1.29. Cheese, lunchmeat, and dairy products (sour cream, milk, yogurt) are all items that I check for in the “clearance” or “discount” section of the store. If I’m not going to use these types of products within the next few days, I will put them into the freezer.
I have found that day old bread from the bread stores can sometimes (astonishingly) be fresher, while costing one-fourth the cost of retail! I am always shocked to see loaves of bread in the store over four dollars. In spite of my deep love for all things carb, I am not that much of a bread eater. Well, unless it’s fresh baked. The smell of fresh baked bread brings back memories of going to visit my Grandma. She used to live close to the old Holsum Bakery warehouse over near Buckeye and the old freeway. We could smell the bread for miles. But I digress…
Fruits and vegetables don’t have an expiration date per se, but sometimes stores will have an area near the back of the produce section where they will discount produce at half price or less; produce that is perfectly usable. I was so excited a couple of weeks ago to see that one of the stores in the small town near where we live had set up a clearance produce rack. We were able to buy 6 black plums for 99 cents! The important thing you need regarding produce is you do need to manage it as soon as you get home. Refrigerate it right away and use within a couple of days, or blanch and freeze it to get longer life from it. Bananas with spots make THE MOST DELICIOUS banana bread. I’ll have to share my recipe with you sometime. The riper a banana is, the more sweet it’s going to taste, and the less sweetener you’ll need in your banana bread.
I am a bit more concerned about prescription medication and expiration dates. However I don’t understand how a canister of asthma medication can lose its potency when it’s sealed and under pressure. I can understand the medications that are powder based. I manage my asthma with one dose daily, when the directions say twice daily. My asthma specialist gives his blessing to this practice. So one month’s medication lasts me two months. Except when I was using the powder based medication, then it would only last 45 days, instead of 60 days. That used to bum me out to have to open a new container when I knew another two weeks worth of product was in the container. Plus, it raised the price of the product. One month of medication cost me $10 (or $120/year). If I could stretch it to two months, the cost dropped to $5/month or $60/year. But the powder medication cost $7.50 a month since it only lasted 45 days.
When it comes to items like cleaning products having an expiration date, say for example, dishwashing liquid, I think that’s ridiculous. I wouldn’t hesitate to use dishwashing liquid long after its date of expiration. What’s going to happen? Is it going to suds less? Does it turn to poison?
Here is a page with a long list of items with suggested expiration dates that you might find helpful when trying to decide whether the expiration date is important to you or not.
So how much do you care about expiration dates?