Does this look bad to you? Does that statement sound familiar? It is something I say to my husband almost every week when I am cleaning out the fridge before my next shopping trip.
Even though most items have dates on the packaging, once they’ve been opened it’s hard to know how long you can keep the food item in the pantry, fridge or freezer.
I always err on the side of caution, but I’m sure I’ve thrown out food that was still good to eat.
One trick I use is to mark the date on the lid with a sharpie when I open something. That way I know how long it has been opened and can make a more informed decision about keeping it or throwing it away.
With a big family, things tend to get lost in the fridge and pantry, so I try to keep track of as much as possible.
I was excited to find this food storage chart created by Clemson University that takes all the guess work out of how long food lasts.
We turned the chart into a handy printable so you can print it out and store it in a drawer in your kitchen or in your favorite cookbook. Use it has a guide for keeping track of the items in your fridge and pantry.
I had food poisoning a few years ago and I NEVER want it again. However I also don’t want to throw money (aka food) in the garbage that we could have eaten.
Use this chart as a reference, but if something looks or smells bad throw it away, no matter what the date says!
RECOMMENDED TIMES FOR REFRIGERATOR AND FREEZER FOOD STORAGE
5- 7 days
|Canned milk (opened)||3-5 days||*|
|Cream (unwhipped)||10 days||*|
|Cream (whipped)||1 day||2 months|
|Sour cream||4 weeks||*|
|Yogurt, cottage cheese||7 days (after “sell-by date”)||*|
|Hard cheese, grated cheese||6-12 weks||6-12 months|
|Cheese spreads||3-4 weeks||*|
|Butter/margarine||2 weeks||9 months|
|Ice cream||*||2 months|
|Fresh in shell||3 weeks||*|
|Hard cooked||1 week||*|
|Beef roasts, steaks||3-5 days||6-12 monhts|
|Chicken or turkey, pieces||1-2 days||9-12 months|
|Chicken or turkey, whole||1-2 days||1 year|
|Duck or goose||1-2 days||6 months|
|Game birds||1-2 days||6 months|
|Giblets||1-2 days||3-4 months|
|Ground meat or stew||1-2 days||3-4 months|
|Lamb, roasts or chops||3-5 days||6-9 months|
|Pork, roasts or chops||3-5 days||4-6 months|
|Pre-stuffed pork and lamb chops or chicken breasts||1 day||*|
|Sausage||1-2 days||1-2 months|
|Variety meats: heart, liver, tongue, etc.||1-2 days||3-4 months|
|Venison, roasts, steaks, chops||3-5 days||6-12 months|
|Smoked breakfast sausage||7 days||1-2 months|
|Whole ham (fully cooked)||7days||1-2 months|
|Half ham (fully cooked)||3-5 days||1-2 months|
|Ham slices (fully cooked)||3-4 days||1-2 months|
|Canned ham (“keep refrigerated” label)||6-9 months||*|
|Hotdogs, luncheon meats (unopened)||2 weeks||1-2 months|
|Hotdogs, luncheon meats (opened)||3-7 days||1-2 months|
|Cooked, leftover meat||3-4 days||2-3 months|
|Leftover gravy and meat broth||1-2 days||2-3 months|
|Cooked, leftover poultry||3-4 days||4-6 months|
|Cooked, leftover chicken nuggets or patties||1-2 days||1-3 months|
|Fresh lean fish: cod, flounder, trout, haddock, halibut, pollack, perch||1-2 days||4-6 months|
|Fresh fatty fish: mullet, smelt, salmon,mackerel, bluefish, tuna and swordfish||1-2 days||2-3 months|
|Live crabs and lobster||same day purchased||*|
|Live mussels and clams||2-3 days||*|
|Live oysters||7-10 days||*|
|Shucked mussels and clams||1-2 days||3- 4 months|
|Shucked oysters||5-7 days||3-4 months|
|Shrimp, crabmeat||2-3 days||4 months|
|Scallops||2-3 days||3 months|
|Bread shrimp, commercial||*||1 year|
|Cooked pieces||3-4 days||3 months|
|Apples||1 months||8-12 months|
|Apricots, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums||3-5 days||8-12 months|
|Avocados||3-5 days||8-12 months|
|Bananas, plantains||*||8-12 months|
|Berries, cherries||2-3 days||8-12 months|
|Grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges||2 weeks||4-6 months|
|Guavas, papayas||1-2 days||8-12 months|
|Kiwis||3-5 days||4-6 months|
|Melons||1 week||8-12 months|
|Pineapple||2-3 days||4-6 months|
|Asparagus||2-3 days||8-12 months|
|Beets, carrots||2 weeks||8-12 months|
|Beans, broccoli, lima beans, peas, summer squash||3-5 days||8-12 months|
|Cauliflower||1 week||8-12 months|
|Cilantro, parsley||2-3 days||*|
|Corn||use immediately for best flavor||8-12 months|
|Green onions||3-5 days||*|
|Celery, cabbage, chilies, green beans, peppers, tomatoes||1 week||8-12 months|
|Greens: colards, kale, mustard, spinach, swiss chard||3-5 days||8-12 months|
|Lettuce and salad greens||1 week||*|
|Mushrooms, okra||1-2 days||8-12 months|
|Squash, hard||*||8-12 months|
|BREADS: Store at room temperature. Storing in the refrigerator promotes staling. Use the date as a guide or use within 3 to 7 days.|
|Bread, yeast||*||6-12 months|
|Muffins, rolls, quick breads||*||2-4 months|
|Pancakes and waffles||*||1-2 months|
|Unbaked dough||2-3 days||6 months|
|CAKES: Store at room temperature, except for cheesecake. Best used within 3 to 7 days|
|Angel and sponge||*||4-6 months|
|Cheese||3-7 days||4-6 months|
|Layer cake (butter cream icing or plain)||*||6 months|
|PASTRIES: Store at room temperature. Best used within 1 to 3 days|
|Chiffon pie, pumpkin pie||1-2 days||1 month|
|Fruit pie||1-2 days||1 year|
|Unbaked fruit pies||*||8 months|
|* Storage here not recommended due to safety or quality issue|
I’m printing this out and taping it to my cabinet door! Thanks, Toni!
Thanks for the chart! I too will be printing this. Just a quick note on cilantro; if you put it in a glass with water, as if they were flowers, it lasts a lot longer!
Thanks for the list. I’m printing it and keeping it posted in my cabinet, too!
Richelle F says
That’s great info! Thanks for sharing!
only two weeks for butter?? I think it lasts much longer than that. I can honestly say that I’ve never had butter go bad. But an excellent resource nonetheless.
Somebody's Mimi says
Funny… my husband always says, “Would you smell this”.