Kitchen Tip-Marking The Date Opened

Does anyone besides me forget when they opened that package of lunch meat that is hiding in the back of the fridge?

Let’s see was it last Friday or the Friday before that……If you are like me you can’t keep track of what gets opened when.

All food has an expiration date, but that date is how long it is good for in general and you can not always use that date once things are opened. Many things say use within seven days of opening.

So, how do I keep track of when I open things and how long I have to use them.

I keep a permanent marker handy and I do this

I simply mark the date that I opened it on the box or package. This lets me know how long it has been in the fridge and if I need to use it up soon.

I find that I throw out a lot less food when I mark the date opened on the package. I know how long I have before it goes bad, and I can plan to use it before it does.

I also find that it saves me time because I no longer have to stand there and think about when I opened that package of lunch meat, I instantly know.

Does anyone else mark their packages of food like this?

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. I do this with my portions of chicken, beef, etc. that I split up and freeze when I buy the family packs. This way I use the oldest frozen portions first and hopefully not let anything get freezer burn.

  2. I do this :)

  3. As a kid, my mom used old margarine and cool whip tubs to save all of our leftovers in. We were instructed every night as we cleaned up from dinner to mark the leftovers with the name of what was inside and the date. We put a piece of masking tape on the lid to write on so we could pull it off and use the tub again.

    As an adult, I label everything that goes in the freezer. I’m not so good about the fridge stuff though. Our family is big enough that we eat through most everything in a week. I should be more conscientious though. I should label everything.

  4. I’ve been trying to remember to write dates opened on my spices and things, yeast (which can be stored for six months in the fridge – but if I don’t remember when I opened it that doesn’t help!). We have been writing dates on baggies that hold bread made items (muffins with dinner, biscuits etc) so that I know how long that those items have been sitting on the counter. I’ve been trying to get hubby to use some masking tape and a sharpie to write the date on the tupperware container for left-overs too! That’s a good idea though too to label what it is inside the container too!

    I am also very fastidious any more about labeling the pre-cooked hamburger and the date that I froze the meat in the freezer. I’ve come across packages of meat that I can’t quite tell what is in the package and I have no idea how long it’s been there. I also label containers I stick in the freezer – like left over enchilada sauce I know I won’t use up until the next month!

  5. I do this on some items – mainly, the stuff that I always forget about! Meat never lasts long enough to go to the effort, but I do try to remember to mark chicken broth.

  6. i do this also with a sharpie, especially with soy milk because i always forget how long i’ve had it since i only use it for smoothies on the weekends. i also use post-it notes on containers for the freezer and keep a list of what i’ve got in there there with the dates on both too. i’m kinda a freezer hoarder and both my indoor freezer {attahced to my fridge} and my garage chest freezer are full of soups, cooked beans, sauces, doughs, breads, muffins … so much!

  7. I am bad at remembering to label things like this, but I used to! I also like to put the “opened date” on things like Shampoo, Floss, and deodorant so I can get a better idea of how long it takes us to use things up and how much is a years supply so that I can purge or add more to my stockpile as needed.

  8. Kathy C. says:

    I do this, especially with spices and baking powder…my mom writes dates on cans when she buys them, too.

  9. What a great idea! I date all my pantry goods when I buy them, but had never thought of dating things when I opened the package. Of course, I date all my freezer stuff, but have never dated commercial things that I don’t use up all at one time. I am definitely going to start doing this.

  10. I’ve always meant to do this, but haven’t yet. Maybe I need to hang a sharpie on the frig.

  11. I am a missionary’s wife and we traveled a lot on deputation. Since we would be away from home for just a few days or a few weeks at a time, I learned to mark our containers too to keep from throwing out food that wasn’t necessarily bad just yet.

    Since my husband uses a lot of label sheets, and still does, I use the outer edges of the label sheets that remain after the labels have been removed. It is the perfect size just to write a date!

    • Very clever and thrifty, Angie! When we are going to leave town, I start throwing leftovers in the freezer, then get home and have no idea what they are!

  12. That sounds like a great book for teaching children and for helping us review what to do. I like to mark dates on items, too. Thanks for your great ideas.

  13. I do this too! My husband laughs at me, but those dates remind me to use things up before they go bad. I also date things with a longer shelf life, like condiments, to gauge how long it takes for us to use them up. I love Catherine’s idea of dating toiletries for the same reason — I’m going to have to start doing that too.

  14. On my refrigerator I have a mesh magnet basket holds blank neon garage sale stickers & Bic Permanent ink Pens. I do as you, mark when it is opened.

  15. Karen Leak says:

    I should do this, but never remember. But my father-in-law who is very methodical with everything he does marks food items he opens just like this.

  16. Kimberly says:

    I especially like to do this with leftover pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce. It is definitely helpful and I also throw away less food.

  17. Yeah, I do this. I also use it for large packages of non perishables so I can see how long it lasts and know how many to get when I see an awesome special, like Catherine with toiletries.

  18. Always do this on containers but never thought to do with packaged items – so now we know! Thanks!

  19. I have been doing this for years! It is SO helpful to know how old things are but I mainly started doing it because I wanted to know how long it took us to use up things, like a giant bottle of ketchup. It has helped me save money in the end because I will now buy the size that our family can use in a reasonable amount of time and throw away less. The way I look at it is how comfortable you are spending money…would you rather spend a little more for the non-economy size or spend less then throw some of it away? My concious prefers to spend a little more upfront rather than throw food away. :-) (BTW, I also wrote about this a few months ago in an “organize your fridge” post–it’s a great way to help you clean out your fridge more easily too!)

  20. JRA in CO says:

    no, I have never done this, but what a COOL idea!!

  21. Jayashiangel says:

    I have been using the marker trick for month really cut down on waste..Such a simple trick yet saves you Tons in the long run….

  22. Francine says:

    I mark and date everyting that comes through my door, even magazines so I will know when their offer expires.

  23. What a great idea! I definitely want to do more to organize the refrigerator. This will help a lot.

  24. it had never occured to me. But what a great idea. Thanks so much for posting!!

  25. Yes, I label just about everything in my refrigerator…especially leftovers in containers. My extended family teases me and calls me the “label queen!” I keep 1/2″ masking tape and sharpies around for this. I label the contents and the date made or the date opened. It is much more likely to get eaten that way!

  26. Heather Benoit says:

    When I open a box of broth/stock I put the expiration date on it (14 days after opening) as I don’t want to have to worry about it. This way I know if it is bad or about to go bad. I started this a few years ago as I was constantly guessing when I opened it. Also great idea about toiletries! Now I will now just how much to buy when I see a fab deal.

  27. I have not done this in the fridge, but I need to start. It seems like I have thrown away more food in the last year than ever before. I do keep a large pantry and will sometimes get in there and just make the “use by” date LARGER with a sharpie. As long as we have all these rules and regulations about what is on a food label, I think the manufactures ought to be required to have a standard location and a larger print for these dates. Sometimes it is very hard to find!

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