For many things that we eat, we definitely know when its time to toss ‘em.  Fresh milk that now looks like cottage cheese.  Spices and herbs that you bought when your now 20-something kids were in kindergarten.  Jars of olives in the fridge that have a nice float of green-something on top of them… we know the signs.  But what about foods that aren’t so obviously past their prime?  Here’s a list that I found interesting, compiled in large part by the folks at Real Simple magazine:

•  Beer
Unopened: 4 months

•  Brown sugar
Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moisture proof container in a cool, dry place

•  Chocolate (Hershey bar)
1 year from production date

•  Coffee, canned ground
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 1 month refrigerated

•  Coffee, gourmet
Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
Ground: 1 week in sealed container

•  Coffee, instant
Unopened: Up to 2 years
Opened: Up to 1 month

•  Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)
Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date.
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected.

•  Dried pasta
12 months

•  Frozen dinners
Unopened: 12 to 18 months

•  Frozen vegetables
Unopened: 18 to 24 months
Opened: 1 month

•  Honey
Indefinite shelf life

•  Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)
Unopened: 8 months from production date
Opened: 7 to 10 days

•  Ketchup
Unopened: 1 year (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

•  Maple syrup, real or imitation
1 year

•  Maraschino cherries
Unopened: 3 to 4 years
Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated

•  Marshmallows
Unopened: 40 weeks
Opened: 3 months

•  Mayonnaise
Unopened: Indefinitely
Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchase by” date (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

•  Mustard
2 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

•  Olives, jarred (green with pimento)
Unopened: 3 years
Opened: 3 months

•  Olive oil
2 years from manufacture date (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

•  Peanuts
Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated
Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container

•  Peanut butter, natural
9 months

•  Peanut butter, processed (like Jif, or other big brand names)
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months

•  Pickles
Unopened: 18 months
Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

•  Protein bars (PowerBars)
Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check “best by” date on the package.

•  Rice, white
2 years from date on box or date of purchase

•  Salad dressing, bottled
Unopened: 12 months after “best by” date
Opened: 9 months refrigerated

•  Soda, regular
Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected

•  Steak sauce
33 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

•  Tabasco
5 years, stored in a cool, dry place

•  Tea bags (Lipton)
Use within 2 years of opening the package

•  Tuna, canned
Unopened: 1 year from purchase date
Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

•  Soy sauce, bottled
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 3 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

•  Vinegar
42 months

•  Wine (red, white)
Unopened: 3 years from vintage date; 20 to 100 years for fine wines
Opened: 1 week refrigerated and corked

•  Worcestershire sauce
Unopened: 5 to 10 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
Opened: 2 years