I’ll chalk this up to living on my own a bit, but I was always somewhat skeptical of the dates they put on food. This lead to adventurous cooking experiences, and food in the fridge that eventually resembled a 7th grade science fair. On the other hand, Staci religiously follows the dates printed on food packaging. Even if the milk or whatever looks and smells fine, she’s not going to overrule the date based on impirical data gathered by yours truly.
Business Week has an article to help you sort out what the dates mean, and how to interpet them – we’ll see if we can reach some sort of compromise at the Merida house.
The dates, for one, mean quite different things. For instance, "sell by" is more a guide for the store to know how long it can display a product for sale. The "best before" or "best if used by" date refers to a quality or flavor of the food. "Use by" works more like an expiration date, similar to that on medicines, and taking them after the date is not recommended.