What to Throw When

A big—no, strike that—a HUGE part of saving money is protecting what you’ve invested in. It pays to know about how long you can expect something to last and exactly when to throw it out. So here’s a quick run-down on many items that you may be wondering about.

Pantry Staples

White rice will keep upto 30 years when stored properly (in a dry, air-tight container). Its brown counterpart, however, will only keep up to 5 months.

Flour, or any other product made from grain or cracked seed, will last on a typical pantry shelf for about a year. The biggest concern is—big “eeww” factor here—bugs! If you’re going to store flour for a substantial amount of time (aka close to a year or longer), wrap it tightly and store it in the freezer, not the fridge.

Commercially canned products are generally good for 2 to 5 years past the date it was actually canned. But the acidity of the food inside the can also matters. The higher the acidity, the shorter the shelf life is. For example, canned beans will last much longer sitting on your shelf than say tomato sauce will. However, the latter will still be edible or safe to eat. The downside will be a metallic-like taste as some of the metal from the can itself will have likely leeched into the food product.


Fridge and Freezer Stuff

Ever wonder how long a hardboiled egg lasts inside the fridge? How about its raw counterpart? The prior will last about a week if left in the shell. The latter, on the other hand, will stay fresh for anywhere between 3 to 5 weeks (depending on how fresh they were when purchased).

Most cheeses will keep for about a month inside your fridge. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is the harder the cheese, the longer it will keep. That’s why, for example, Parmesan cheese—whether grated, shredded or left as a wedge—will keep longer than a semi-hard cheese such as Swiss will.

Expect to keep milk in the fridge no longer than a week. Not only will it turn sour, but it will have lost much of its nutrients as well.

Most items kept in the freezer will quite literally keep indefinitely. The biggest culprit to your food is pesky freezer burn. This, however, can be warded off by proper packaging prior to deep-freeze. Eliminate as much space between the food item and the wrapping as possible. (Wherever cold air actually comes in contact with the food itself, freezer burn is sure to strike.) Additionally, the fresher an item is when it takes the plunge into the cold, the better it will likely taste when it thaws out to be used as well. Do be careful, though, to allow enough room for safe expansion of liquid items before throwing them in the freezer.

A great site to help find more specific information when you need it is ShelfLifeAdvice.com. There you’ll be able to search by item, easily find specific shelf life guidelines as well as locate tips and tricks to safely store items for as long as possible.

Photo credit: Luiza

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit ThrivingOnEmpty.com to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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