If you’re on a budget, it’s possible to make the most of your money by making your grocery shop last longer. You just have to know which foods you can keep past their expiry date. Not all food items spoil as quickly as their labels suggest, as long as they’re stored correctly, and you can reduce unnecessary food waste by understanding whether foods are safe to eat after their expiry date or not. Here are 18 foods that can still be eaten past their expiry date.

Bread

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Bread can be completely fine and risk-free to eat past its expiry date, as long as there are no signs of mold. After a little while, bread can become stale, but sale bread is still perfectly good to use for toast, croutons, bread pudding, or as a thickener for soups and sauces. Bread can also be stored in the freezer for months without losing its taste or texture, which means there’s no excuse to throw out your bread once its expiry date has passed!

Raw Chicken

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You might think you should steer clear of raw chicken that’s past its use-by date; however, the expiration date can sometimes be deceiving. If you’re unsure whether your chicken is still safe to use, check for unusual smells, a slimy texture, or any discoloration rather than simply throwing it out. According to the FDA, “in the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30–40 percent of the food supply.” Checking if food is spoiled can help you waste less.

Milk

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If you store milk properly, keeping it consistently refrigerated at a temperature below 40°F, it can last several days past its expiry. If you keep milk longer than its expiration date, it’s a good idea to give it a smell before using it, as a sour odor can warn you that it’s gone off. Even when milk has gone sour, it can still be used for baking things like pancakes, muffins, and cakes to add a tangy flavor.

Spinach

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The shelf-life of spinach is usually about a week, but this can be extended in a few different ways. You can keep spinach past its expiry date, as it’s safe to eat slightly wilted spinach, and it can be sauteed or added to cooked dishes if it’s no longer at its freshest. You can also preserve spinach by freezing it, and it can be kept for months this way. However, once spinach becomes slimy and smelly, it’s time to eliminate it.

Fresh Oysters

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Fresh oysters can be expensive, so you really don’t want to let them go to waste! If you don’t get around to eating your oysters before the date on the packaging, there’s no need to worry, as you can keep oysters fresh for up to a week longer if you store them in the refrigerator on ice or in a breathable container. Fresh oysters should smell like the sea whereas spoiled oysters will have an unpleasant odor.

Cheese

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Cheese can last an especially long time past its expiry date, particularly hard cheeses. Cheeses like cheddar and parmesan can often last weeks to months beyond the printed date when stored correctly. The texture of the cheese may change over time and become harder or dryer, but the cheese can still be eaten and used in cooking in this state. Even if mold begins to form, hard cheese can be safely eaten if you cut it off, as the interior remains unaffected.

Berries

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The NPR says that “Eighty-six percent of consumers report that they either always or usually throw food away based on the date.” This isn’t necessary with berries, as there are many ways to continue to eat berries past their use-by date. Overripe berries are good for making jams, sauces, and baked goods. If you find some mold on any of the berries, throw away the affected berries to keep the rest fresh. You can also freeze berries for months and then use them in smoothies, desserts, or baking.

Bagged Salad

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Unopened bags of salad tend to last longer than their expiration dates suggest, provided that they’re stored properly and kept refrigerated. However, once you’ve opened your bagged salad, you should eat it within a few days. When you come around to eating your salad, make sure you check for any slimy or brown leaves that indicate it’s gone bad. If the leaves just appear to be a bit wilted, you can revive them by soaking them in ice water for a few minutes.

Salami

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Salami can have quite a long shelf life, sometimes even up to several weeks, if the packet remains unopened. You should store salami in a cool, dry place or keep it in the refrigerator if you want to make it last longer. If you ignore salami’s expiration date, it’s important to check it before eating it. Finding white mold on the casing is nothing to worry about, as it can be wiped off, whereas salami with green or black mold should be thrown out.

Cauliflowers, Carrots, and Red Peppers

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Vegetables like cauliflowers, carrots, and red peppers should be stored in the crisper drawer of the fridge, as this will keep them fresh for weeks. Don’t discard your vegetables if they’re starting to wilt a bit or become less crisp, as you can use vegetables that are slightly past their best in soups, stews, and stir-fries to save yourself from having to buy more. However, if you notice your veg has developed soft spots, mold, or an off smell, it’s time to get rid.

Ground Beef and Pork

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People are usually a bit more hesitant to keep meat like ground beef and pork past its expiration date, but there’s often no need to throw it away as soon as the date passes. If you find yourself using ground beef or pork beyond its expiry date, just make sure there are no odd smells or discoloration and you’ll be fine! To safely hold onto your ground meat for longer, you can stick it in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.

Whipped Cream

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Dairy products will never be able to last too long past their use-by date, but it’s possible for whipped cream to last up to a week longer if it’s stored properly in a refrigerator. This way you can enjoy your whipped cream more without having to rush to use it all or end up wasting it. Don’t fret if the whipped cream starts to separate, as it can be re-whipped back to its normal texture. However, if the cream becomes watery or smelly, trash it!

Canned Food

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Forbes reports that “in 2022, families with the lowest earnings spent an average of $5,090 on food, equalling about 31% of their income.” You can save some of this money by making your grocery shops last longer. Buying canned food is a great way to do this, as it can last for a really long time! As long as the can is intact and it has been stored properly, canned food can still be safe to eat even years later.

Fresh Mussels

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Despite what the label says, fresh mussels can usually be kept for a few days in a breathable container inside your fridge. Similarly to oysters, mussels should smell like the sea when fresh. Also, fresh mussels should always have closed shells, and you should throw out any that have open, cracked, or broken shells. When you get around to cooking your mussels, make sure the shells open fully and discard any that don’t.

Eggs

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Many people keep their eggs quite a while past their expiry date, as they can typically last several weeks longer than it suggests. One trick to use to check if your eggs are still fresh is to place them in a bowl of water and see if they sink. If the eggs sink, they’re still good, but if they float, they shouldn’t be eaten. Always check for any cracks or strange smells before using your eggs too, as these can indicate that they’ve spoiled.

Peanuts

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Peanuts tend to have a reasonably long shelf life, especially shelled peanuts, which can last for months when stored in a cool, dry place. If you’re not sure whether your peanuts are still ok to eat, taste a few to see if there’s a sour or bitter taste, as this means they’ve gone rancid. Slightly old peanuts can still be used in cooking, baking, or making peanut butter without any threat to your health.

Fish

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Fish can cost quite a lot of money, so the freezer is your best friend in this case! You can freeze fish to extend its shelf-life by several months. This stops you from wasting the fish as well as your hard-earned cash. To make sure the fish is still fresh, check that it’s firm and moist and has a mild scent. Fish that’s gone bad will be slimy or discolored and will have a strong, fishy odor.

Leftover Pizza

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We all love pizza, but sometimes our eyes are bigger than our belly and we just can’t finish the whole thing! Luckily, you can store leftover pizza in the fridge and it will be good to eat for 3-4 days. If you want to reheat your leftover pizza, make sure you do it safely by heating it to at least 165°F. If you keep it for a few days, remember to check for any signs of mold or bad smells before eating it.

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