The Truth about the Best By Dates on Food
You probably have noticed the dates on foods, such as “sell-by,”best-by,” and “use-by,” and all of these can be confusing! In this post, we’ll talk about their meanings to help you make the right decision when buying non-perishable foods, especially when you’re donating them to food banks.
This is aimed at the retailer that guides them when they should rotate product off the shelves.
“Best if used by” Date
This indicated the quality of the food. Therefore, don’t panic if you missed the “best by” date—you can still consume it after.
This is the last day the manufacturer recommends consuming the product based on quality. Again, it has nothing to do with safety.
Now, you might be wondering how long your food will last if it goes past the expiration date.
The answer to that is: it depends. It depends on what it is and how it was handled. The USDA recommends using products that have the use-by date by that time.
On the other hand, for sell-by dates that go past, you can still store it for a short period depending on what it is.
As for their nutritional value, it still depends. For example, a cup of orange juice can provide you with a full day of vitamin C, but if it’s been open for a week, it will lose its antioxidant benefits due to light and air exposure.
With that, some foods do really lose their nutrients when they’re exposed to air, and they may lose a bit more when you cook them. That’s why it’s vital you consume your fruits and vegetables as soon as you buy them.
Food Safety & the Best-By Date
Again, the best-by date talks about the quality. So, if you’re unsure about the safety of your food, the best thing to use here is your nose.
The smell of a food can say a lot about the freshness of the food; therefore, it’s your go-to “tool” when buying non-perishable foods. If there’s a sour smell, then it’s probably bad; so, skip it.
It’s also a good idea to have a good labeling system if you will store these items at home. That way, you will be able to tell which products should go first; at the same time, you can follow easily the “first in, first-out” basis.
Bets-by dates are about the quality of the food, not their safety. So, it’s not a reliable basis when it comes to food safety. Still, it’s important you know that the best-by dates don’t say much about the safety of the food, so you shouldn’t put one back on the shelf if you see it’s already past the best-by date. This is because you can still consume and use it.
Knowing what best-by date truly means will help you shop more efficiently and make your pantry even more organized. It is also helpful when you’re donating foods to food banks and other charities.
Non-perishable foods are those with long shelf life, which is why they’re most popular in food banks. However, it’s essential you know exactly the right non-perishable foods to give to food banks. What are the best non-perishable foods you can purchase for families that rely on food banks? We will discuss them here.
What is Considered Non-Perishable?
Non-perishable foods are the ones that can stay safe to consume for a long period without refrigeration. Some can last a few weeks to months on the shelf, while others can last for months. Military MREs and freeze-dried food can last up to 10 to 20 years.
What You Need to Know About Non-Perishable Foods
This type of food doesn’t need refrigeration. However, they need to be kept cool and dry at all times. If you see the food in a shelf at the store, then it’s also safe to have it on the shelf of your home.
They need to be kept off the floor to allow for air circulation. Remember, the number one enemy of non-perishable foods is air. So, you can consider using vacuum-sealed containers to extend their shelf life.
When buying canned foods, begin with the “best by” date. Of course, you shouldn’t get the ones with obvious signs of spoilage.
1. Canned Soup
Canned soup is the go-to food for many people who don’t have access to fresh food for whatever reason. With that, canned soups are the best choice because they’re healthy and comes in various flavors. However, make sure you choose low-sodium soups that are not cream-based. Why?
Although there’s really nothing wrong with cream-based soups, the problem is that creamier soups tend to have higher fat content and have more calories per serving compared to clear broth-based soups.
Stick to low-fat soups that have no more than 3 grams of fat per serving. Low-sodium soups should only have 360 milligrams or less sodium per serving.
Also, be mindful of added sugars! Look for soups with no or low sugar, which is four grams or less. It’s a good idea to scan labels for sodium levels and added sugar. Most major brands have their nutrition facts for their products on their website. Today, you can find plant-based soups to get a lot of nutrients.
2. Canned Fish or Meats
Most canned meats and fish are actually healthy due to their high protein content and rich omega-3 fatty acids. However, similar to canned soup, you need to read what’s on the label.
For one, oily fish, such as anchovies, sardines, and mackerel, are the highest sources of omega-3s. What’s best about them is that you can find them at a grocery store!
Also, these canned foods are not really loaded with preservatives. The truth is, canned foods don’t need preservatives because the heating and vacuum seal processes make these canned foods safe to eat and shelf-stable. However, salt, sugar, and added flavors may be added to improve the flavor that is lost because of the heating process.
3. Canned Vegetables and Fruits
These are two of the best non-perishable foods you can donate to a food bank. There is also a wide variety of these in grocery stores, which means that you can choose from many choices.
You don’t need to worry so much about their nutritional content because most of them have the same amount of nutrients as fresh and frozen products. In fact, you will even find some canned foods that have more vitamins and minerals compared to fresh options.
They are also more affordable, which means you can get as many as possible to donate to food banks.
Finally, canned fruits and vegetables are safe because they can use high levels of heat to preserve the food. In turn, this helps prevent the growth of pathogens often caused by food-borne illnesses.
Another thing you need to remember is that canned vegetables and fruits are processed within hours of harvest; therefore, this makes them healthy and great tasting as well.
When it comes to canned fruits, it’s best to store them in their own juice versus syrup because they’re lower in calories. You can also find canned vegetables with no salt added that are highly available in the market for you.
Pasta and other noodles are some of the best non-perishable items as well. What makes it a good choice for food banks is that it’s the perfect foundation for a healthy, nutritious, and satisfying meal. Moreover, it’s easy to partner it with other foods, such as fish and vegetables.
Pasta is widely available today and it’s a great source of glucose, which is necessary to fuel the muscles and brain. In addition to that, it’s an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which means it can release energy at a slow and sustained level.
It is also rich in folic acid, which is essential for women. Finally, pasta is a good part of a well-balanced diet.
5. Peanut Butter (and other nut butters)
When it comes to spreads, peanut butter tops the list, which is also why it’s one of the best non-perishable foods you can donate to food banks today. Not only does it taste delicious, but it’s actually unprocessed food. Basically, it’s only peanuts that are ground until they turn into a paste. But yes, some peanut butter sold commercially contains added sugars and even trans fat.
One of the best things about peanut butter is that it’s an excellent protein source because it belongs to the legume family. It is comprised of at least 25% protein. Next, it’s low in carbs as it only contains 20% carbs, which is perfect if you follow a low-carb diet.
Finally, peanut butter and other nut butter are high in healthy fats and its rich in vitamins and minerals.
Shop for the Best Non-Perishable Foods Today
If you’re planning to donate to food banks, these four non-perishable foods are the best ones to donate. They’re healthy, convenient, and they’re widely available.
Summer Safety Tips
Spring has fully arrived in the Greater Valley area, and thoughts are inevitably turning to the summer of 2021. After such a chaotic year, it’s no surprise that people are ready to return to the outdoors and have some much-needed fun in the sun. By now, you’re probably well aware of the passion that we at Second Harvest have for helping our communities thrive, so with that in mind, we wanted to give you some tips on how you can make the most of the next few months! Here’s a list of our 5 tips to having a happy, healthy, and, of course, safe summer 2021.
Spend Time Outdoors
With the mercury on the rise, there’s no doubt that beautiful summer weather is just around the corner. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or someone who just enjoys relaxing in nature, there’s no better time to start some healthy exercise habits. Fresh air and sunshine alone are enough to get your body on the right track, but it’s also the perfect time to try and elevate that heart rate with some light cardio. Bottom line: After a lethargic year of indoor confinement and isolation, it’s time to reclaim the outdoors again!
A topic that is near and dear to everyone involved with Second Harvest of the Greater Valley - you might even say it’s our raison d’etre. Maintaining a nutritious diet is at the core of living a happy and healthy life, with the food we eat having an impact on everything from immune function to mental health. Summer brings with it an array of delicious, seasonal produce, so be sure to take advantage of these sustainable options!
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of good old-fashioned face-to-face connection. Over a year of isolation can leave even the most introverted of bookworms craving some social contact, so If you’re feeling the urge to go out and congregate, you’re definitely not alone. We’re social creatures, so maintaining a connection with family, friends, and even the occasional community volunteer can make a big difference for your overall health!
Follow Public Health Guidelines
This should go without saying after the merry-go-round of lockdowns that have occurred over the last year, but we’ll repeat it just in case: Follow public health guidelines!
While the vaccine rollout has helped curb the worst of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s still important to recognize that the situation is evolving in real-time. As much as you may want to return to your pre-pandemic lifestyle, there are still public health guidelines that you need to follow to stay safe. And remember, public health protocols work best when we all do our part!
Give Back to Your Community
Now, more than ever, is the time to give back to your community. With the pandemic wreaking financial havoc on businesses of all sizes, nonprofits and charities are feeling it worst of all. Donations are always a welcome contribution to community initiatives, but there are many other ways you can help give back this summer.
In the charitable mood and looking for a way to give back? Visit our website to learn more about Second Harvest’s volunteer, donor, and partnership programs!
The Mywalgreens donation program
We’re participating in the myWalgreens donation program! You can donate your myWalgreens cash rewards to Second Harvest of the Greater Valley thru 08/31/21. At Walgreens, you’ll earn unlimited 1% Walgreens Cash rewards when you shop and you can choose how much to donate. It’s that easy. Whether you’d like to contribute $1, $5, or more of your Walgreens Cash rewards you’ll be making a big difference. It really adds up!
*Walgreens Cash rewards can be redeemed as a donation to designated charities as shown in your myWalgreensTM account in app or on Walgreens.com. Once Walgreens Cash rewards are redeemed for a donation, the exchange is not reversible and cannot be canceled once submitted. Donation is not tax deductible, and additional terms and conditions may apply. Walgreens reserves the right to change the charities that are eligible to participate at any time without notice