Whenever I look in the refrigerator and see something that I’m pretty sure belongs in the garbage can, I know it’s time to call the expert on all things date-challenged… my Dad.
Somehow, he has this uncanny talent for distinguishing between freshness and over-ripeness. Sure, I can see mold on a strawberry or on a loaf of bread. And I don’t even need to smell the milk once I see it curdled on top. But it’s the ambiguous items I have trouble with.
I tend to rely on terms such as:
- Expiration Date
- Sell By Date
- Best If Used By Date
But, as my ‘advisor’ has advised me on many occasions, canned foods and boxed foods have different freshness standards. Stale cereal, for instance, won’t harm you but it might not be the crunchy consistency you desire. And I remember all the people stocking up on canned beans and tuna during the days preceding the millennium. Would those foods still be edible today?
I will always have my suspicions and will continue to throw out perfectly good food (like millions of others) because, “why take the chance?” That said, on any given day, you can still find me pulling out all the milks in the store till I get to the latest date at the back and I wouldn’t hesitate to bring back any moldy food (even if I’ve already eaten some of it) for a full refund!
Many times I’ve heard my Mom say (to no one in particular), “this bottle used to be much bigger,” or “it used to be ____ ounces and now it’s only ____.” We’re a nation of label readers but what other choice do we have?
It’s a well-known and accepted fact that prices rarely go down (sale items not withstanding). But then, why should the size (or the quality of the product, for that matter) diminish? Here are a few ripoffs I recently discovered in our kitchen:
- 1 lb can of coffee is now 11 oz
- 1/2 gallon tub of ice cream is now 1.5 qt
- 6 oz container of yogurt is now 4 oz
This might not come as a surprise to some of you but many people, especially those on a fixed income or budget, rely on these foods as part of their regular diet and sustenance.
Did you know that you used to be able to get two decent sandwiches out of a can of tuna? Now, an 8 oz can of tuna is only 5 oz (4 oz drained) – which barely makes one tuna sandwich. For elderly people and even mothers of school aged children (who make their kids’ lunches), this means having to buy twice as many cans at twice the cost.
As unfair as it sounds, we must face the facts… Less is not always more and you don’t always get what you pay for!*
*StarKist Tuna – listed at $1.29 a can, paid $.89 on sale (but still used to be a bigger can)
Friendly’s Ice Cream – listed at $3.49 a 1/2 gallon, paid $2.50 on sale (but still used to be bigger)
Dannon Greek Yogurt – listed at $4.99 for a 4 pack, paid $3.33 on sale (ok, you get it)