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LuckyGuy's avatar

How can I convince my less fortunate relatives that expired, canned food is still good and should be eaten?

Asked by LuckyGuy (33334points) 1 week ago

I have two relatives who do not have good incomes and really need to make every dollar count. In fact, one is disabled and is on public assistance.
Both of them throw out expired food. I stressed that I try to never throw food away. If it is not furry or moving I will eat it or cook something with it. To prove to them that it is ok I asked them to bring some stuff they were going to throw away and I would show how it is still good. Of course the food was fine.
Message accepted. Lesson learned. Right? Wrong!!!

Rather than getting the message that they should save money and eat it themselves both of them now save their expired food for me! At each family gathering I am given expired stuff. A box of dusty canned soups, a bag of expired fruit cups, a container of ancient blueberry pie filling. This is the total opposite message of what I had intended.
Right now I am warming a “gifted” can of 2012 vintage, Great Value Cream of Mushroom soup for lunch.
How can my message be clarified and not taken that I need their old food?
How would you approach this?

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31 Answers

chyna's avatar

I have to admit that I wouldn’t eat it either.
I have to wonder why they have expired food? Why are they not eating that before they buy more? Maybe their shopping habits need addressed instead of them giving you expired food.

Cruiser's avatar

Can you get them to watch this video ?

ucme's avatar

I just threw out a bottle of wine from the cellar dated 82, a cheeky little red but…oh shit!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@chyna I wonder about their shopping habits, too, but it is definitely not my place to be meddling there. I certainly don’t want to take them grocery shopping. It would drive me crazy.
I know the relative on public assistance occasionally gets some food from an aid agency.
I would like them to shop from their refrigerators and shelves for a few weeks rather than go shopping, but that message is totally lost.
The cream of mushroom soup is delicious, by the way. I added some white mushrooms and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top. Yum!

@ucme Don’t you hate it when those bottles in the basement get all dirty and the gunk settles out? That’s why I shake them up before drinking. Good as new. ;-)

@Cruiser I will check out that video now.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Sadly the only way to illustrate the issue would involve deception, which might backfire. You would have to prepare some of the food they gave you, in a meal, invite them over, have them eat it, then tell them it was expired food they gave you, I would wait a week. Then when you tell them they did not detect anything, find it un-tasty, or got sick behind it, they can’t rebuke the truth. However, they may still miss the point because they are mad they were tricked and exposed as wrong.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I thought I had already shown them that the food was still good and should be eaten. Unfortunately, their takeaway message was that I eat old food so they should bring it to me. And because I don’t waste food I end up having to eat their discards.
It’s a classic case of “No good deed goes unpunished.”

JLeslie's avatar

I think don’t bother trying anymore. Hopefully, they don’t buy many things that sit in the pantry to expire.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an expiration date on canned foods.

chyna's avatar

My mom had dozens of expired canned goods and some had actually exploded. I should have looked through her pantry while she was alive, but she didn’t want me to.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III You must not be looking.

Cruiser's avatar

I also read a link from a food depository that will accept cans past their expiration date and they place them on shelves marked expired food for the needy to come and pick through.

jca's avatar

Most food pantries/food banks won’t accept expired food. It’s a shame, because years expired is one thing but a few months expired shouldn’t be a problem, especially when it comes to canned goods. I have canned goods at home that may be a year over their “due” date.

I think in the case of your relatives, @LuckyGuy, it sounds like they’re thinking they’re funny. “Let’s bring Lucky our old stuff since he eats it! Yeah, instead of having to throw it out, we’ll bring it to Lucky’s house!”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^^ It’s a shame, because years expired is one thing but a few months expired shouldn’t be a problem, especially when it comes to canned goods.
They won’t use it, easy to narrow down to one word Attorneys.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The food bank here has a long list of rules. In general: they will take canned goods if within 6 months after the expiration date. Glass jar baby food must be within expiration date. Dented cans are rejected. All packaging must be intact.

The food they brought here expired years ago. I’m eating it.

@jca I really don’t think they are intentionally being funny or sarcastic. I find it ridiculous that I am eating food they rejected.
i can afford to eat anything and anywhere I want, but I end up eating their cast-offs. Oh well.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Something I don’t understand. If they’re so bad off why are they wasting food? Oh. Foodstamps.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Honestly, what business is it of yours what they do with their stuff in their own pantry?

chyna's avatar

@darth_algar It’s his business because they are dumping their old expired food on him.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@chyna

Re-read the opening post. There’s a reason why they’re doing that.

kritiper's avatar

Good luck with that. I have a sister that does the same thing. (She gets stomach problems real easy so is permanently spooked by “old” food.) The producers do that so people WILL throw it out and then buy more. Lots of wasted food, but somebody makes more money!!!

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna I don’t think so. I think he is making it his business, because he thinks it will be helpful to them to know the food is safe to eat, because they don’t have a lot of money. He’s trying to help them be frugal.

jca's avatar

@LuckyGuy: Could you ask them (or “would you ask them”) why they’re giving you this old food when they could keep it? I agree with @JLeslie but it seems like this is where the conversation can come in. “I have plenty of all kinds of food but maybe you guys can use this. Bring it back home.”

JLeslie's avatar

They aren’t going to eat it. It makes them nervous. An illness for them is way more expensive than a $1.20 can of food.

I think accept the gift and say thank you. Your advice backfired. This happens to me constantly. I find it very frustrating. I try to help, and instead I am misunderstood, too often seen negatively for saying something, and my intention is viewed as mean or negative. More and more I see it’s usually not worth it to try and help.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@JLeslie You got it exactly right. I was trying to help them reduce shopping trips and save some money, but the advice backfired. I really don’t know how else to send the message.

I will ask where it comes from. The disabled one belongs to a church. Maybe parishioners have a food drive and people donate their unwanted canned goods to the less fortunate (and likely get a tax deduction as well.)

I just had a bowl of Cream of mushroom soup left over from yesterday. It is even more delicious today. The mushrooms are juicier.

Maybe they should be donating to a food shelter that

jca's avatar

That’s why I would have a conversation with them. Instead of it being where you dropped them a hint and hoped they comprehended, I’d talk to them. “Do you realize this food is still good? I eat it and I don’t get sick. The household eats it and nobody gets sick. It’s made to last for many years. It can be put in bomb shelters and stored for years in case of emergency.” Then it becomes a conversation. Otherwise they play dumb and your good attempt backfired.

JLeslie's avatar

^^In my experience you can’t win. You try to explain and the hole just gets deeper and deeper. I guess it depends on the person. I find the biggest determining factor is if the other person enjoys being mad at other people.

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JLeslie's avatar

I thought of this Q yesterday. I was talking to this guy who I would guess makes around $30k a year, but the company he works for provides a free apartment for him to live in.

He, and his girlfriend, and her kids, have Disney annual passes. For herself and her kids she has the weekday pass, meaning you can’t use it for entry in weekends. The pass is around $300 each. He told me that her birthday is on a Saturday this year so he is going to upgrade her pass to the platinum level, which is just over $700! What?! I gave him a lecture. There is a pass that will get you in 7 days a week that is just short of $400, but he said, “yeah, but that has black out dates.” You know what dates are blacked out? When the park is ridiculously busy with tourists! The benefit of being one hour from Disney is you can go when the lines are only 10 minutes long. Forget that his girlfriend homeschools her kids and can go any day.

I tried. I don’t know what he will decide. Money on the street.

jca's avatar

I thought of this q today when a coworker was telling me about her granddaughter who is 2 and wears Michael Kors sandals (paid for by the mom, I assume who is my coworker’s daughter). Real Michael Kors, not counterfeit. Meanwhile the child’s mom has not a pot to piss in, literally.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca That’s crazy.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: My mom used to call it “Champagne taste on a beer budget.”

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