Use-by date on the package simply indicates the period of time when the food tastes best, not the date when it will suddenly make you sick. The general recipe for longevity, according to these experts, is for the food to be low in liquids, sugar and oil, all of which have the potential to mold and spoil the food, or to have “lots and lots” of preservatives, which keep the food fresh longer.
So if you’re looking for groceries to buy in bulk and store in your pantry, these products are your best bet.
Canned Beans and Vegetables
Canned food lasts longer than most products in the grocery store because it has been specially processed in air-tight cans. In general, canned items can stay good for 12-18 months. However, canned products like beans and vegetables, which are low in acid, can actually last for as long as two to five years. The only exception is if the can is dented or rusty, as that indicates the can has been punctured at some point, which speeds up the spoilage process.
Most common spices like salt, pepper and oregano don’t actually expire in the traditional sense, they just become less and less flavorful. Using these spices within two to four years to be safe. Keep in mind too by that point, you’ll probably have to use more of each spice in order to compensate for the loss in flavor.
Cereal and Crackers
You might as well start stocking up on crackers and cereal for the winter. Since they don’t have enough moisture to grow bacteria or mold, they can last for a very long time. Cereals like Cheerios and Puff Wheat, which have little to no sugar, can last for 18-24 months if unopened, while crackers like saltines can generally last for about two years but the taste and texture might deteriorate somewhat.
Dried Pasta and White Rice
Dried pasta and white rice do not contain enough moisture to spoil, and can therefore last for at least two years unopened. Brown rice and whole wheat pasta contains more oil than their traditional counterparts, and can therefore go rancid much quicker.
Unmade popcorn kernels can last for up to two years because they lack the oils and moisture that would lead to spoilage.
Ketchup, mustard, horseradish and salad dressings generally contain no ingredients that can go bad, they will last for a solid 12 months unopened before they completely lose their taste.
If left unopened, a can of coke will take “an extraordinarily long time” to expire. Diet sodas expire much more quickly because they contain artificial sweeteners that degrade with heat and time.
Honey can take years to expire and one can conservatively hold onto it for about a year before its consistency begins to change, hardening and losing its sweet taste. Honey stays good for 12 months whether it’s opened or unopened, making it one of the only foods where that is the case.
read article by Seth Fiegerman from Financially Fit: Foods With the Longest Expiration Dates