Want to buy the freshest loaf of bread at the grocery store? Look at the colored plastic tags on the bag.
bread tags on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Jennifer A Smith

When lunchtime rolls around, you may head to the refrigerator to grab your favorite combination of meat and cheese to make a sandwich. Or you might whip up our quick and easy 3-Ingredient Creamy Rotisserie Chicken Salad. With thinly sliced tomatoes and crisp greens? Yum!

But all of these sandwiches need one key ingredient: a fresh loaf of bread. No amount of mustard or mashed avocado you spread on those slices can fix bread that's past its prime. So how do you know if you're getting the freshest loaf possible when you head to your grocery store bakery? Luckily there's an easy-to-find clue on the packaging that's key to deciphering a loaf's freshness—the plastic tag.

What Are the Plastic Tags on Bread Bags?

Picking up a loaf of bread from a grocery store's bakery is your best bet for getting something that's fresh. Typically, those loaves have been baked within a day or two of when they're for sale in the store. But to know exactly when it was baked, you want to take a look at the colored plastic tag or tie that closes the bag. Those pieces of plastic are called "bread clips" (aka bread tabs, bag clips, bread bag clips or bread buckles). The tag's color indicates when the loaf was stocked on the store's shelves.

What Do the Colors on Bread Tags Mean?

These color-coded tags indicate the date the bread was baked and packaged. It helps staff keep track of what was baked when, so they can rotate out older loaves as needed. Most grocery stores follow the schedule below:

  • Monday – Blue
  • Tuesday – Green
  • Thursday – Red
  • Friday – White
  • Saturday – Yellow

Wondering where Wednesday and Sunday are? Most bread bakeries take a production break on those days.

How Can I Remember the Schedule of Color-Coded Bread Tags?

Now that you know that the color-coded tags actually mean something, how can you remember which color means which day? Luckily there is an easy way to remember the schedule. The colors correspond to weekdays in alphabetical order: Blue (Monday), Green (Tuesday), Red (Thursday), White (Friday), then Yellow (Saturday). For example, if it's Tuesday, you'll want to look for a loaf of bread with a blue or green tag.

Now that you know how to find the freshest loaf of bread, you can focus on choosing ingredients to make the perfect sandwich. Check out our most satisfying veggie sandwich recipes for extra inspiration.