During the winter, the last thing you want to do is venture out into the cold for dinner supplies multiple times per week. But, because
Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of frigid weather, we need a more sustainable grocery shopping approach — you know, one that doesn't involve as much expired seafood, wilted produce, or curdled milk.
To start our list, we consulted USDA food safety specialist Marianne Gravely on the foods that, while not entirely immortal, won't run safety risks if consumed past their prime. According to Gravely, the major issues lie with quality — and even a darkened potato or freezer-burned bag of greens can still be salvaged with the right precautions. Check out the complete list ahead with best quality guidelines and tips on making the most out of these remaining winter provisions.
Curious about other questionable goods currently hanging around in your kitchen? Check in with the
FoodKeeper App to look up product specifics or connect with a live specialist at AskKaren.gov for more in-depth expiration inquiries.
Picking up a pound of potatoes is an affordable way to get more milage out of your grocery runs. Potatoes can last anywhere between
in the pantry, but will do even better when cold.
If you can, store your potatoes in cool, dark, open-air space (like the garage or basement) — light exposure is what makes a potato turn green and inedible. And although it's generally time to toss a potato when it starts to shrivel, ones with green or darkened spots can still be cut around and salvaged for consumption.
Take your pick from green beans to spinach, Brussel's sprouts, and more — when stored properly, frozen bags of greens can survive in your freezer at best quality for up to
The bacteria that causes food poisoning can't grow in the freezer — so even though your bags of greens may lose flavor and ice over, there's never a real need to chuck them out. How often you open and close your freezer and the thickness of product packaging impacts how long you can keep freezer burn at bay; once it sets in, greens can still be tossed in a soup, and you'll barely even notice.
Root veggies, like carrots or beets, can last up to
when stored in the fridge — stocking up on a bag or bunch is an easy way to safely elongate your fresh vegetable game.
Full-size carrots may turn soft and rubbery when kept too long; baby carrots become dried out and whitish in coloring. This doesn't pose a safety issue, so there's no need to throw these veggies out. Again, throwing them into a soup is an easy way to mask that they're past their prime.
Instead of going for a liquid carton that will expire within a week after opening, pick up the dehydrated cube version for fast flavoring — bouillon cubes keep their best quality for about
when stored in a cool, dry space.
Cubes may start to lose their flavor after a year, but they can still be used safely (and with little notice) in heavier soups and stews.
Apples can last for at least
stored at room temperature — and 6 weeks or longer when stashed in the fridge. Oranges are good for up to
when stored at room temperature and keep their best quality for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
When apples begin to dry out or get mushy, it may be time to toss them. For oranges, the peels typically start to dry and harden, and the slices will have a sour taste. Neither pose a threat to your safety, it's more just a taste and texture thing — so try using up the duds by mashing, sweetening with sugar, and heating them on the stove for an apple sauce or fruit purée.
Eggs are affordable, easy to cook, and long-lasting protein saviors. You can safely store a dozen in your fridge for up to
after the date on the carton, which, despite the common misconception, is not an expiration date.
A bad egg can be spotted based on consistency and smell: If the yolk and whites appear thin with a runny reddish coloring or foul smell, then it's time to throw it out. Older eggs with a thinner consistency are still ideal for hard-boiling. And a blood spot in your yolk is actually the sign of a fresh egg, folks!
Survivalists out there will say canned legumes
expire — and the USDA doesn't disagree. As a general rule, canned goods are safe indefinitely, but you're better off cracking it open within
As long as the can hasn't been punctured, damaged, or stored in extremely hot temperatures, canned beans will last forever in a cool, dark pantry — although the flavors might start to fade over time.
Although fresh parsley, basil, or cilantro may not last very long in the fridge, scallions or rosemary can last
when stored properly.
When the ends of your green onions start to get slimy, it's time to toss them out — although it won't hurt you to consume them at this point, the flavor might be a bit funky. With hard herbs like rosemary or even oregano, you'll notice the leaves dry out, which results in not a funky but rather faded flavor. But, using a pinch more than usual when cooking can help to combat the blandness.
Fresh squash can last for around
on your counter for best quality, but only about
Cutting open a squash is a fool-proof way to discover if it's past its prime. But since that's a pain-in-the-ass, another method is knocking on the exterior — any soft or browned spots are signs that the gourd may have started to decay. Note: Even if the outside has started to go, the inside might still be salvageable. So, always hack it open as a final test.
Make harder leafy greens like cabbage, kale, or romaine your winter go-tos. When stored properly in a fridge's produce drawer, cabbage can stay good
from 1-2 weeks,
and kale or romaine,
Although outer layers of older lettuce may appear slimy or browned, removing or peeling away those sections is a safe method for lengthening the shelf-life. Similarly with pre-cut and packaged bags of kale, the slimy or brown leaves can be removed from the fresher mix without having to toss the entire bag out.