Mac and cheese is one of the easiest foods to whip up. Talk about easy; companies like Kraft have made it even easier to make mac and cheese! But, do you have a pack lying around which makes you wonder, “does kraft mac and cheese expire”? You’ll get an answer to that and a lot more, all in this article!
Kraft mac and cheese, just like other food items, expires. However, Kraft macaroni and cheese is not fresh or packaged, so the expiration differs from fresh food. Usually, the mac and cheese stays good and to its optimum quality until it reaches its ‘best before’ expiration date.
As you all know, Kraft mac and cheese is an instant food. So, the contents used to make it are all dry, including dry pasta and a mix of dry cheese. There are also natural colors, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors added to the cheese mix.
So, the added preservatives add a lot to the shelf life of this product, making it last much longer than fresh food. But, regardless of that, certain parameters can define the expiration of Kraft mac and cheese.
This article will discuss all the signs you can look out for to check whether your Kraft mac and cheese has expired. Some storage tips are mentioned here that can help you keep your mac and cheese in good condition for a long time. So now, let us get exploring!
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How To Tell If Kraft Mac And Cheese Has Expired?
The base doubt about kraft mac and cheese expiration has been cleared. Just like other food products, this pre-packaged meal also has an expiration date. However, it is difficult to tell if this mac and cheese has expired.
The main reason behind this is the fact that, unlike fresh food, there are only a few obvious signs of spoilage with pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food. That makes it much more confusing and difficult to distinguish between a good and a spoiled box of Kraft mac and cheese.
But don’t you worry! Just like fresh food has obvious signs of spoilage and expiration, most packaged food tends to have subtle signs. These signs can be much easier to point out than you think and are all given below.
1. Past The Expiration Date
The first and easiest way to determine whether your mac and cheese are spoiled is by checking its expiration date. All food has two expiration labels: “use by” or “best before.”
The “use by” date is used most often for fresh food. This sort of expiration date denotes that the food has to be used before the date mentioned on the label.
A “best before” expiration date is used for packaged food or anything with a much longer shelf life. This data shows that the food stays in its prime and best condition until the date mentioned on the label. However, it is always best not to consume something even if it is past the “best before” expiration date.
2. It Has Mold
Another easy way to tell if food is spoiled, including Kraft mac and cheese, is by checking if it has molded. In most cases, fresh food tends to get mold faster than packaged food.
Packaged food like Kraft mac and cheese is made so that it only gets molded quickly! However, although unlikely in most cases, a box of craft mac and cheese getting mold is possible.
It can get moldy if the mac and cheese box is stored for a long time, especially if it is even past its expiration date. There will be obvious signs of discoloration and growth; in this case, the box should be discarded.
3. It Has A Bland Flavor
The last way to tell whether your Kraft mac and cheese box is alright is by checking its flavor. However, this method should be implemented only if your box surpasses the abovementioned criteria.
If your mac and cheese are far from the expiration date and neither has mold, but it still seems funny, you can always take cooking it as a last resort. This will give you an idea of its flavor, which is an important factor in determining spoilage and expiration.
Right after you cook it, even the odor of the mac and cheese can help determine its freshness. An expired mac and cheese will have a putrid odor and a bland flavor and should not be consumed. Even if the cheese mix has some moisture, it is best to discard the box altogether.
Is It Safe To Eat Kraft Mac and Cheese That Is Past Its Expiration Date?
Like other packaged food, kraft mac and cheese uses a “best before” to talk about expiration. However, unlike the ‘use by’ date on fresh food, the ‘best before’ way of measuring freshness differs quite a lot.
The “use by” date is a little more strict, so if you use fresh produce beyond its expiration date, chances are that you will get sick! However, with packaged food, the “best before” date determines how long the food in the pack will stay in its best condition.
Beyond the date mentioned on the box, it will taste differently than it should, but a little inferior. However, if you have a box in your cabinet that is only a few days past its “best before” date, you can eat it. But again, this is provided that the mac and cheese do not have any other signs of spoilage that were mentioned above.
What Happens If You Eat Kraft Mac And Cheese That Is Past Its Expiration Date?
Eating food beyond its prime can be a huge mistake, especially with fresh food. But, as I mentioned before, the whole process for a boxed product tends to be completely different, thanks to all the added preservatives.
So, unlike eating expired fresh food, you will only get food poisoning if you eat Kraft mac and cheese, which is a few days past its expiration date. However, this is because your mac and cheese do not have other signs of spoilage, like mold, moisture, or a horrid stench.
What Is The Average Shelf Life Of Kraft Mac And Cheese?
Shelf life is an important factor that we consider with most food. This is especially true for boxed products and ready-to-eat meals, as they last much longer than fresh food. So, if there is a huge discount at your closest grocery store, you may buy a few packs at once!
But there is also the chance of not consuming them all simultaneously, so shelf life becomes an important factor here. However, Kraft mac and cheese’s shelf life varies based on whether the pack has been opened. Let’s take a look at the shelf life in both cases.
1. Unopened Packet
An unopened Kraft mac and cheese pack has a much longer shelf life than you may have thought! An unopened pack usually remains good for nearly two years, provided it is stored in proper conditions.
So it can easily stay good past its expiration date. But, it is still important to check your mac and cheese before you cook it, to check for signs of spoilage, even though the chances are highly unlikely.
2. Opened Packet
Like all other food, an opened packet tends to have a much shorter shelf life. With packaged food like Kraft mac and cheese, one of the reasons it stays great for a long time is that it is vacuum sealed.
This stops any moisture from getting in, which is what spoils the product in the first place. Once a packet is opened, it should be used right away. However, storing in an airtight container can last 3-4 days.
How To Store Kraft Mac And Cheese?
Storage is a very significant factor that determines the freshness of food. Even the freshest food can go bad instantly if not stored properly. So, if you expect your boxed Kraft mac and cheese to last for as long as its shelf life allows, it is very important to store it in a certain way.
I have mentioned the right ways to store cooked and uncooked forms of Kraft mac and cheese. Knowing both ways of storage can be helpful as these two methods, in most cases, are different.
1. Raw Mac And Cheese
A whole box of mac and cheese should be stored in a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight. Storing it in the refrigerator does nothing for this boxed mac and cheese. That increases the risk of moisture, which can reduce the shelf life.
An opened box should not be stored just as it is. The contents of it should be taken out in an airtight container. This way, it can be stored the same way an unopened box can be, or the container can be stored in the freezer too. Also, make sure that no moisture gets into the pack under any circumstances.
2. Cooked Mac And Cheese
Yes, you can store cooked Kraft mac and cheese leftovers if you finish it all at once! Technically, it should be finished all at once to retain its original flavor, but if not, then an airtight container is your best bet.
Once transferred to an airtight container, this mac and cheese should be stored either in the refrigerator or the freezer. Where you store depends completely on how long you want it to be good for.
Coming to the end of this wonderful article, I hope it has helped you understand everything you wanted about Kraft mac and cheese. It can be difficult to determine the expiration of packaged food, as the signs could be clearer.
However, just a little knowledge of how to store Kraft mac and cheese can significantly affect its shelf life. So, if you have a pack of Kraft mac and cheese just a few days past its expiration date and it seems fine in every other way, go ahead and enjoy it!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does Kraft mac and cheese expire?
Yes, just like other food, Kraft mac and cheese expires too.
Can Kraft mac and cheese be consumed if it is a few days past its expiration date?
Yes, Kraft mac and cheese can be consumed if it is a few days past its expiration date, provided it does not have other signs of spoilage.
Can Kraft mac and cheese be eaten if it is discolored?
No, the discoloration can signify spoilage, so it is best not to eat it.
Should Kraft mac and cheese be stored in the refrigerator?
No, an unopened packet of kraft mac and cheese should not be stored in the refrigerator but in a cool and dry place.
Can Kraft mac and cheese be stored once cooked?
Yes, Kraft mac and cheese can be stored, once cooked, in an airtight container.
Can Kraft mac and cheese be reheated?
Yes, Kraft mac and cheese can be reheated, but it is best to reheat it only once.
Can you store cooked kraft mac and cheese in the freezer?
Yes, you can store cooked Kraft mac and cheese in the freezer in an airtight container.