Did you know that up to 40% of safe-to-eat foods produced in the U.S. never make it to people’s plates?
According to nonprofit group Feeding America, that comes to roughly 70 million tons of food waste per year – or, $161 billion thrown into the trash.
Part of the massive food wastage can be pointed to being uber wasteful, but another part can be attributed to those highly misleading ‘sell by’ or ‘use by’ labels. Many consumers throw away their ‘old’ brown sugar or mustard to play it safe, when it’s actually completely unnecessary to do so.
Take the following kitchen essentials as an example – these items will last for years, despite what their labels may say. Read on to save yourself that hard-earned cash, and from making excessive grocery store runs.
Basmati, wild, jasmine and white rice can all be kept for years, as long as they’re in a tightly sealed space, and that your batch of rice didn’t have any bug eggs among them when packaged (trust us, this is a thing). Once your bag of rice is open, simply move the remaining grains to an airtight container, or freezer bag, to preserve freshness.
The only rice that can’t be kept for years is fiber-heavy brown rice; its oils cause it to go rancid after six months.
Low-acid canned goods – like veggies, meats, and fish – can remain fresh for up to five years. These canned products are sterile, making it impossible for bacteria to penetrate the can and contaminate its contents.
Having said that, you should shy away from said canned goods, like tuna, if the can is bulging or leaking. Botulism is rarely found in canned products; damaged ones will have a higher chance of contamination, however – so better to be safe.
Not sure what to do with those leftover proteins? Check out these 15 Creative Ways to Use Canned Fish.
Beans are a must-have in any health-conscious person’s diet. Canned beans are nothing to get excited about – we don’t want all that extra sodium or additives – compared to the dried version, which trades the junk for fiber and essential nutrients.
In an airtight container, pulses like dried pinto, kidney, black-eyed, lima, and kidney beans can be kept fresh for one year, according to the U.S. Dried Bean Council (yes, this is another real thing). Just remember to keep them cool and dry, and out of the sunlight!
Can’t stop eating beans? These 25 Recipes and Ideas for Pulses should satisfy your palate.
Unopened olives can stay edible for up to three years, so visit your local Costco and splurge as much as you’d like. Olives always have a place in the home, and are a last-second lifesaver for unexpected house guests – they can be used from anything from appetizers, to small salads, or to top off those martinis.
Speaking of martinis, hard liquor is another long-lasting kitchen consumable. As long as it’s stored in a cool, dry place – maybe there’s some space beside your bean supply – it’ll be good to drink years down the road.
So don’t be afraid to re-gift that gin to a co-worker or family member if it isn’t your thing.
The only salt you should be throwing around is if you’re superstitious, and it’s headed over your shoulder.
Besides that, table salt and sea salt can be confidently sprinkled to taste, regardless of how long you’ve had it. Again, in a cool, dry space, salt will stay fresh indefinitely.
The one exception to the rule? Iodized salt, which only lasts up to five years.
Honey is truly the darling of nutrition experts. Not only does it carry antiviral and antibacterial properties, the sticky sweetener rocks a near-infinite shelf life.
Sure, it can get grainy, hard, or even change colour, but its antibiotic properties will always preserve its taste and keep it from spoiling.