Ok, if you're a parent I am sure that you've asked this question a dozen times over. Let me just relate a bit of my crazy week....and yes, like many of you, every week I have is crazy.
I began starting garden seeds in my seed pods last week, and I was doing my project in the kitchen. One of the kids opened our new fridge and the smell that escaped was overwhelming. This doesn't usually happen at our house because there are rarely leftovers.
Of course said child "didn't notice anything" so I got to play detective. Lurking the the very back corner, behind a jar of mayonnaise, was a mystery container. I recognized the container as ours, but what was inside was anyone's guess. Upon pulling back the lid I was overcome with emotion--not the good kind. Apparently black beans ferment, or expand, or explode, or do something really bad when ignored for a week. It smelled worse than it looked, but gross none the less.
One box of baking soda and a few paper towels later, my fridge was pretty again. My poor husband volunteered to dispose of the accidental science experiment. His act was really a miracle. After living in Europe for a few years, he has severe "expired food anxiety" and normally won't touch anything that is passed it's "use by" date. Thank You sweetheart for expunging our house of the Killer Black Beans, and for washing the container too! (Bonus points to you, but you will only know that if you read this post!)
Onto the point...there are dates on products for many reasons--some are not always what you may think they are. I ran across this great website, Eat By Date, and it's very helpful. Sometimes it's hard to tell what those stamped dates, such as "Best By," mean. Great minds must think alike because today Melea at Freebies2Deals has THIS POST on her site. Read it for better understanding of what all these dates really mean.
Why worry about food expiring? Because this helps $AVE MONEY. If the food must be used by the date on the package, then use it by that date, and you won't waste money throwing it out. If the date is negotiable in its time frame (Best By Dates)--cereal, cake mix, etc--then you don't have to throw it out and you can "buy" yourself extra time.
The more you know, the more you $ave....or something like that.