Expiration Dates


As I’ve referenced before, my TLC  “Extreme Cheapskates” marathon viewing has impacted how I look at food. I watched a lady in NYC pick all of her food out of the garbage and eat it. It made me pretty sure I could still drink that creamer in my fridge that had a date on it from last week (was it an expiration date? A sell by date? It didn’t say). If that woman on TV can eat a cheesecake from the garbage, I should be okay… right??

While volunteering at the Atlanta Community Food Bank in their Product Rescue Center (PRC) last month, I decided I would pay close attention to the expiration dates they sorted by. Side note – the Atlanta Community Food Bank does AMAZING work to help end hunger in our community and the PRC sorts cans and products donated by both local grocery stores and food drives. Volunteering there is one of my favorite team bonding activities if you need something like that for work or just want to hit it up with your friends. Here’s the scoop on the expiration stuff:

  • Food items: these are items that can be considered elements of a meal. Pasta, baking items, canned goods, etc. Can be up to ONE YEAR expired.
  • Snack items: bars, cookies, etc. You know, not something you put into a meal. Not an ingredient for something else. Can be up to 30 DAYS expired.

On my recent visit, while we were sorting there was a group of kids there (you have to be 8 or older to volunteer) and it was the BIRTHDAY party for one of the little girls. Are you kidding me? That’s what she chose for her birthday party? Can her mom please tell me how to raise that kid??? I want a kid who would rather bring her friends to give back vs. have some $600 American Girl blow out. So inspiring! I will be sure to make giving back part of baby boy’s life and hope hope hope that he turns out as mindful about thinking about others.


I did find a can of soup while sorting that EXPIRED in 2003. I told one of the little girls it might be older than her. Did someone clean out their oldest grossest food and donate it? Was the previous owner of that old soup dead? My mind wandered about that one – A LOT.

I also found beans that wouldn’t expire until 2017 – beans of the future!!

One negative is that all of these items at the food bank need to be shelf stable. You aren’t going to see spring mix salad bags coming through. I can only hope that some of the healthier canned ingredients and be put together in a way to not contribute to other health problems for the recipients.

So – what have you wondered about the expiration on? 


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