Trash to Table

We do a lot of talking about using food beyond their printed dates, so it’s always great to hear when people are taking our advice. We hear from many people who have enjoyed foods that they were going to simply throw away. No one likes to just throw money away, so they are always thankful for what they have saved and we are thankful to hear their stories. And, the environment is also thankful that those items have not been sent to the landfill to rot and create more destructive gasses.

Here’s a look at a few people who are actually taking food with expired dates, and even other peoples food waste, and turning it into some pretty fancy foods. Their stories just might help you think of your own ways to repurpose and save. Kudos to all those who think beyond the best-by dates!

trash to table

Trash to Table

Examples of Thinking Beyond the Date

First, let’s look at an article from a website called “Stuff You Don’t Want” ( that helps people find alternate lives for things that are no longer useful to them. The writer decided to venture out of her comfort zone and try eating “expired” food for a change. She tried one “expired” food item every day for a week, using the pages of EatByDate as a guide, and then lived to write an interesting and informative journal about her personal experience with food dates. She began her journey adhering to all printed labels and ended the week on a much different note (a high one, we might add). Her office mates even devoured every last cookie, pictured above, that were baked and labeled with what she called “vintage” spices.

Next, let’s go a little larger scale and check out what appears to be a gourmet restaurant that is taking trash from other places (think vegetable fiber from a juice bar, cucumber butts from a pickle factory) and turning this perfectly good food into five-star fare at a true farm to table restaurant. This video takes a few minutes but it is PBS newsworthy and quite mouthwatering to boot.

Finally, let’s go back into your own private kitchen. Got a carton of milk that when you open the lid hits you with a nasty sour smell? Instead of heading for the trash can, try heading for the griddle. Sour milk actually makes a wonderful substitute for buttermilk in your favorite pancake recipe. Incredibly, the sour taste disappears when cooked and there’s not a bit of bitter flavor in your resulting pancakes! You can also substitute sour milk for buttermilk in waffle and many other baked good recipes.

Of course, you can only eat so many pancakes, so it’s always good to plan ahead. If you know you’re not going to use all of your milk before it turns sour then put it into the freezer. It will probably separate a bit when thawed, but it’s still perfectly fine. If you’ve got a lot of milk that smells sour, then make large batches of pancakes or other baked goods and freeze them, after cooling, in an airtight container. Baked goods freeze well, so just pop your frozen homemade goods into the toaster or oven whenever you need a quick breakfast.

Note: If you completely forgot about your milk and it’s become a thick, lumpy mess surrounded by a thin, bitter liquid… then it’s actually time to throw it out! There’s always a point of no return :(.

Additional Information

To find out how long milk is good for, see our milk page.

Here are some uses for 9 other foods that you may be unnecessarily trashing: trash food

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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