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Does Food Last Past the Expiration Date?

Food expiration dates can be utterly confusing. After all, those dates are meant to keep us safe and ensure we eat our food while it's at its peak in terms of quality and taste, but it turns out, that's not the whole story. Those sell-by or use-by dates are not always the final answer in terms of how long you can actually keep eating what's in your refrigerator and cupboards. Some foods in your kitchen can last well past their food expiration dates, especially if you store them properly. Dry goods like canned fruits and vegetables may also last well past their use-by dates, and so can dairy foods like butter and eggs.

Does that sound like another easy way to extend your grocery budget? Sure is. For instance, if you've ever wondered how long does canned food last?, you're definitely not alone. That hard-to-find date printed somewhere on the can's label (or right on the can, where it's even harder to read) may be misleading you. While the expiration dates on foods in cans range from 1 to 4 years, you can easily double that shelf life by storing the cans in cool, dark place where they'll be free from dents and damage. Such good news, right?

Butter is another food with an expiration date that can be extended. If kept in the freezer, unsalted butter can last 6 months past the printed date. Salted butter, on the other hand, can last for up to 9 months past the printed date. So if you spot a good sale on butter, it's smart to stock up and store extra sticks in your freezer--you'll save money, and also prevent unnecessary trips to the store if you know you always have backup.

Many popular foods--bacon, cereal, and even ice cream (yay!)--can last past their expiration dates if you store them properly. But how do you know when to eat, and when to toss? What to keep in your fridge, and what needs to be frozen? Watch this video for a quick explainer on which foods can live past their sell-by dates. Master this short list, and you'll cut your grocery bill down in no time, no doubt about it.