How often do you check the dates on your food to make sure they are still safe for your family to eat? And what do those dates mean? While Minnesota is starting to feel like spring, I have been in the mood for a little spring cleaning. As you take a look in your frig, you may see some dates that are well beyond today staring back at you in the frig door. Is that mustard still safe to eat when the “best by” date says November 2011? You don’t have to give up the perfect sandwich. Here is what you need to know:
- Best-by or Best Before: These dates are found on shelf-stable products like canned vegetables, condiments or even freezer food. Voluntarily provided by the manufacturer, the “best-by” date tells you how long the product will remain at optimal quality when unopened. It is not a safety date – basically just a “freshness” date. The product is still safe to consume after this date, however the flavor quality may be significantly changed.
- Sell-by: found on perishable products like milk, meat, eggs and yogurt. This date is a guide for how long a store can display a product on store shelves. Make sure to buy before the date expires. You can still store it at home. Milk and yogurt are good for 7-10 days beyond the sell-by date. But meat should be frozen or used within 48 hours of purchase. The reason for this is that home refrigerators tend to be at a higher temperature than store refrigeration making the meat more perishable. Once frozen, the meat will keep indefinitely. But quality may suffer after a certain amount of time passes. Check out the website www.stilltasty.com for the ultimate shelf-life guide. Eggs have their own packing code. Watch the Fresh & Simple segment “Decoding the Dates” http://kaaltv.com/article/stories/S2526374.shtml?cat=11985 to find out what the packing code is and how long to keep your eggs.
- Expires on: This date is found on infant formula, baby foods and over-the-counter medicines. You should always use the product before this date for safety reasons.
I am having my son – who loves to organize – help me clean out and freshen up my cabinets. Not only is it a good bonding time for him and I, but it helps him learn more about food and the kitchen as well. Creating memories in the kitchen is what it’s all about.
Once you know how long eggs remain fresh – you will be able to try this delicious recipe with those fresh eggs – Tex-Mex Frittata – my family loved this served with some fresh strawberries and blueberries. I hope your family will love it!
All you need:
2 tbsp canola oil
1 (32 ounce) package frozen Hy-Vee O’Brien potatoes
6 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Colby Jack cheese
1 cup black bean and corn salsa (my favorite brand – Muir Glen)
All you do:
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add frozen potatoes, arrange in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir well and cook, without stirring, for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
- Whisk together eggs, water, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour over potato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until edges are golden. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before topping with salsa.
Nutrition facts per serving: 270 calories, 12g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 220mg cholesterol, 560mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 5g sugar, 12g protein.
Daily values: 15% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C, 10% calcium, 6% iron.
Recipe adapted from: www.hy-vee.com