October 12, 2022

Does Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ever expire?

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A few days ago I came across an article from the Associated Press dealing with food waste and how it's affected by the "expiry date" marked on food being sold. It's an issue I'm interested in, and I have a habit of hoarding some food past their so-called "use by" dates. There are tins of sardines and other preserves in my cupboard that I am deliberately aging, and I would one day open them up after allowing them to develop for years.

I then remembered that I have 2 boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner in my cupboard whose "use by" dates have long past, which I have kept around because I was loathe to throw them away and waste food. I did want to free up some space in my kitchen, so I decided I would cook them this week. Because, hey, everything in these boxes are dry, anyway... so technically they aren't gonna spoil, right?

The first box says "best when used by 29 May 2015". That's more than 7 years ago. Let's see what this tastes like...

When I opened up the packet of cheese powder and poured it on top of the cooked macaroni, I was taken aback by the color. Instead of the bright orange I'm used to seeing, this had turned a deep hue of brown... like a pile of dirt.

I was undeterred and decided to finish mixing everything. The final product still looked pretty brown, but I was brave enough to go ahead and eat a decent portion. Well, it didn't taste bad, not at first. I was surprised by the acidity, but other than tasting a little stale with a bitter finish, this didn't seem too bad. I ate about 40% of the box.

About 10 minutes after I finished eating, I started having second doubts. It was my wedding anniversary and I was due to go out for a nice dinner for the special occasion. Would I get sick before my dinner? OMG, WHAT HAVE I DONE?! The more I thought about it, the weirder I felt... and I started to feel a tiny bit of nausea. Was I really getting sick from the expired mac 'n cheese, or was it all in my head? I started to think that the aftertaste in my mouth was kinda gross, and I decided to grab a drink to wash that taste away. I also decided to chuck the rest of the box.

Oh, in the end, I was fine. I didn't get sick, and we had a wonderful dinner.

The following day I broke out the other box, which says "best when used by 16 Dec 2017". So that was almost 5 years ago. Let's see if this is any better.

As this was a Star Wars special edition, the pasta came in different shapes like Darth Vader, Yoda, C3P0, R2D2, and X-Wing.

The cheese powder for this box was still brownish in color, but in a lighter shade I would call orange brown.

Yeah, this still tasted a little off, but a noticeable improvement from the box I had the day before. Still got the acidity, a bit richer than the day before, and better on the palate without the bitterness. I ate about half and threw out the rest.

As a " control" in this experiment, I decided to go and buy a box that was not past its "use by" date and compare the taste. As it turns out, the shop was having a "buy 1 get 1 free" sale because this batch has a "best when used by" date of 14 Oct 2022 - 3 days after I bought it.

When I opened up the packet and pour out the powder mix, I finally see the bright orange I love... I've missed this!

Now THIS is the taste I love! This tasted so much more lively, so creamy and cheesy. I was transported to my college days and all the times I made this for a meal in my apartment. I could eat this multiple times a week and not get tired. I ate about half the box and saved the rest for later.

Well... I survived eating very old mac 'n cheese. You CAN eat some food which have gone past their "use by" date, although you may not like the taste.


Anonymous said...

I too hate wasting food and I have eaten many an expired product, though not as long as 7 years. It is great that a gourmet encourages followers not to waste food.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your experience. i have a box of it too. bwub is aug 2023 and it is now march 2024. i was wondering if it is still safe to eat so i searched and yes! i can still cook and eat it now so it will not go to waste. ,😅😉


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