Even though I am in my 30s, I still call my mother (2,000 miles away in Brooklyn) to ask her if a food I'm considering eating is still good. Nine out of ten times, her suggestion is to conduct a sniff test. The basic process is: 1) open container. 2) stick your nose as close to the food as possible. 3) inhale deeply. It's not rocket science. My mother has an amazingly fine-tuned schnoz for such things, whereas I'm not sure my nose's palette is quite as refined. Nonetheless, I frequently rely on the sniff test. After all, it's what my mom does.
Enter StillTasty. This great tool was advertised by Tasting Table Everywhere today, and I'm a little frightened to see where I've gone wrong so many times. I freeze and refreeze things that, according to StillTasty, shouldn't be refreezed (or in some cases, shouldn't be eaten altogether based on the way I've thawed it in the first place).
I see this as being an endlessly useful tool. You can find products by category or just by entering its name into the search function. I just came across "Parmesan Cheese, Commercially Grated and Packaged - Opened" in the Dairy category and found that my big tub of grated Parmesan from Costco is still good to go. (And yes yes, I know a block of Parmesan is preferable with "just in time" grating as needed, but I needed a lot of the stuff for a couple lasagnas a few weeks ago, and it just seemed easier on my arms.) There are indications for how long something would last in the fridge versus how long it would last in the freezer. There are even little storage tips, and while many of those are just common sense, they are reminders of what you should be doing, regardless of what you are doing, which is always helpful.
So, while I'm sure the sniff test will win out many times, I will turn to StillTasty more often than not. Even though I don't think I've ever really gotten sick from something in my fridge...or maybe I'm just blocking out the experience.
4 hours ago