Understanding the Dates on Food Packages

While consumers are studying the ingredients and nutritional information on the labels of the items on their grocery lists, there is another detail they also should check. Knowing the meaning of the “sell-by,” “best-if-used-by,” and “use-by” dates stamped on packaging, including perishables, will help ensure shoppers are purchasing and consuming food at their peak freshness.
Understanding these common terms will help cut the risk of eating potentially spoiled foods, as well as limit the amount of food you throw away. “Sell-by” dates tell the store how long to display the product for sale. Products with sell-by dates should be purchased before the date expires.
A “best-if-used-by” date is a recommendation for best flavor or quality, while the “use-by” date is the last day recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality.
The product’s manufacturer sets the “best-if-used-by” and “use-by” dates. Only “use-by” dates extend to home storage and use after that product has been purchased.
Usually all these dates refer to best quality, not food safety. A product should be perfectly safe for use even if the date has expired while at home on your shelf or in your refrigerator, as long as it is handled and stored properly.
As a general rule, refrigerated foods should be kept at 40 F or below.
Consumers should follow “use-by” dates. Fresh or uncooked food items with “sell-by” dates or no date should be cooked or frozen using the following guidelines:
• Poultry: Within one or two days
• Beef, veal, pork and lamb: Three to five days
• Ground meat and poultry: One or two days
• Cooked, cured ham: Five to seven days
• Sausage from pork, beef or turkey: One or two days
• Eggs: Three to five weeks

When it comes to eggs, cartons stamped with the USDA grade shield must display the “pack date,” a three-digit code representing the consecutive day of the year starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365. The code date may not exceed 45 days from the date of packing shown on cartons stamped with “sell-by” dates and the USDA grade shield.
Always purchase eggs before the sell-by or expiration date. Refrigerate them in their original carton and store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator. For best quality, use them within three to five weeks of the date you purchased them.

Finally, most canned goods display calendar dates. These dates usually are considered best-if-used-by dates to help ensure peak quality. Generally, high-acid foods such as tomatoes and pineapple will retain best quality on the shelf for 12 months to 18 months, while low-acid foods will retain best quality on the shelf for two years to five years.

Whether we’re talking fresh foods or canned goods, the importance of food safety can’t be overlooked. Proper handling and storage make all the difference.

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QuickTip Tuesday: Petunias

I love having beautiful, colorful petunias in my flower bed during the summer months. Here’s how to keep them blooming all season:
Pick off the wilted/dead blooms. Do it quickly because if the bloom is left on too long, the flower will stop blooming and produce a seed. Once the seed is there, the flower is done…. sad face.

10K Training Update

Me, my twin and my college roommate at my very first race.

 

I posted about my newest fitness goal a couple weeks back, and I promised an update. Here goes….

I used the Runners’ World app on my phone to map out a training plan for myself. I wrote this down in my calendar at work and at home, so that I would have it glaring at me anytime I felt like wimping out on my run. This strategy has *mostly* worked for me so far. I am using the Nike app to actually map and track my progress. I know that there are a LOT of running apps out there, and I don’t know much about any of them. I signed up for Nike Running back in 2011 when I got my first smartphone, and it is just so familiar and comfortable that I keep using it even though all my friends have moved on to newer apps.

Week one went something like this:
W1D1: 4.01 miles at an average pace of 12:02 per mile.
W1D2: 2.01 miles at an average pace of 11:46 per mile.
W1D3: Rest day
W1D4: I was supposed to run 4 miles, but I had to work that night, so I skipped it
W1D5: 5.00 miles at an average pace of 11:45 per mile.

I was feeling pretty good after week 1. I shaved some time off my average pace by walking less.

Week 2 went like this:
W2D1: 2.00 miles at an average pace of 11:43 per mile.
W2D2: 4.01 miles at an average pace of 11:53 per mile.
W2D3: 2.51 miles at an average pace of 11:33 per mile.
W2D4: I skipped my run because I am too wimpy to run in the rain.
W2D5: 4.00 miles at an average pace of 11:59 per mile.

I am currently in the middle of week 3. I don’t run on Mondays and I ran 4.02 miles yesterday at an average pace of 12:03 per mile- it was sooo windy, so I don’t feel too bad about slowing down a little bit. I will run another 4 today, and 2 tomorrow. At the suggestion of Husbee, I am going to do a “mile test” tomorrow. I am going to run the first of my 2 miles just as fast as I possibly can and see how/if my speed improves over time. This will be my first mile test.

Husbee ran with me yesterday and when I asked if he had any criticism or advice, he said “My first question is ‘Did you get out and run?’ The answer is yes, so that’s all we can ask for.” Great point, honey! I am putting this out there to encourage the other slow-pokes, like myself, to just get out and run, walk or combination to your next goal!

See you out there!

running

Me with my  high school besties- and my fastest 5K run.

Foodie Friday: Movie Night Popcorn

We have a rule in our house that the kids cannot watch television after bath time. This came about because the TV was getting Amelia a little too wound up right before bed. This rule sparked a new family tradition: Friday Movie Night.
Now, on Fridays only, we watch a movie after bath. And we always have popcorn.

We LOVE some stove top, oil popped popcorn in our house! Husbee likes it pretty simple with salt only. Maybe garlic salt if he’s feeling feisty. Amelia and I like to mix it up a bit.

There are lots of flavored popcorn salts you can buy now, but I usually like to flavor my popcorn with ingredients I have at home, or things I can use for other recipes. Sometimes we do sea salt and peanut M&M’s. Sometimes we do something a little more exotic! Here are some of my favorite “recipes.” Just sprinkle on the ingredients as lightly or as heavily as you like. There’s no wrong way to eat popcorn…. but soggy popcorn is gross.
Popcorn