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Food Storage Guidelines

A chart showing how long to safely store various foods.

Article by: Barbara Bowman


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Storage Basics

The following guidelines are based on storage from the "date of purchase". If there is a "use by" date, cook or freeze the product by that date. If there is an "expiration date" (EXCEPT FOR EGGS which last several weeks longer) then abide by the date. Best by dates are only best quality guidelines and are NOT safety dates. Foods are usable beyond those dates as shown on the chart below.
Click here to read more about food expiration dates, laws and history.

Bread And Cereal Products

 Food Pantry (Room Temperature
 Refrigerator
(33°F to 40
°F)
 Freezer (0°F)
Baked quick breads 4-5 days 1-2 weeks 2-3 months
Bread 5-7 days 1-2 weeks 3 months
Bread crumbs and croutons 6 months    
Bread rolls, unbaked   2-3 weeks 1 month
Cereals, ready-to-eat 2-3 months   1 year
Cereals, ready-to-cook 6 months    
Corn meal 1 year 18 months 2 years
Doughnuts 4-5 days   3 months
Flour, cake, all-purpose 1 year   1-2 years
Flour, whole wheat   6-8 months 1-2 years
Pasta 2 years    
Pies and pastries   3 days 4-6 months
Pies and pastries, baked     1-2 months
Pies and pastries, cream filled   2-3 days 3 months
Pizza   3-4 days 1-2 months
Rice, brown 6 months    
Rice, white 1 year 6-7 days+ 6 months+
Tacos, enchiladas, and burritos (frozen)   2 weeks 1 year
Waffles   4-5 days 1 month

Packaged Foods And Mixes

 Food Pantry (Room Temperature)
 Refrigerator
(33°F to 40°F)
 Freezer
(0°F)
muffin mixes9 months  
Cakes, prepared2-4 days 2-3 months
Cake mixes6-9 months  
Casserole mix9-12 months  
Chili powder6 months  
Cookies, packaged2 months 8-12 months
Crackers, pretzels3 months  
Frosting, canned3 months  
Frosting, mix8 months  
Fruit cake 2-3 months1 year
Hot roll mix18 months 
Instant breakfast products6 months  
Pancake and piecrust mix6 months  
Pancake waffle batter 1-2 days3 months
Toaster pastries3 months  
Sauce and gravy mixes6 months  
Soup mixes1 year  
Spices, Herbs, Condiments, Extracts   
Catsup, chili, and cocktail sauce1 month*6 months1 year
Herbs6 months 1-2 years
Herb/spice blends2 years 1-2 years
Mustard2 years6-8 months*8-12 months
Spices, ground6 months 1-2 years
Spices, whole1-2 years 2-3 years
Vanilla extract2 years  
Other extracts1 year  
Other Food Staples   
Bacon bits4 months  
Baking powder18 months 
Baking soda2 years  
Bouillon products1 year  
Carbonated soft drinks (12 oz. cans)6-9 months 
Carbonated soft drinks, diet (12 oz. cans)3-4 months 
Chocolate, premelted1 year  
Chocolate syrup2 years6 months* 
Chocolate, semisweet2 years  
Chocolate, unsweetened18 months 
Cocoa mixes8 months  
Coconut, shredded1 year8 months1 year
Coffee cans2 years2 months6 months
Coffee, instant6 months  
Coffee, vacuum-packed1 year ^  
Coffee lighteners (dry)9 months 1 year
Cornstarch18 months 2 years
Gelatin18 months  
Honey, jams, jellies, and syrup1 year6-8 months*
Marshmallows2-3 months 
Marshmallow cream3-4 months 
Mayonnaise2-3 months12 months
Molasses2 years  
Nuts, shelled4 months6 months 
Nuts, unshelled6 months  
Nuts, salted  6-8 months
Nuts, unsalted  9-12 months
Oil, salad3 months^  
Parmesan grated cheese10 months 
Pasteurized process cheese spread3 months3-4 weeks*4 months
Peanut butter6 months  
Popcorn1-2 years2 years2-3 years
Pectin1 year  
Salad dressings, bottled1 year^3 months* 
Soft drinks3 months  
Artificial sweetener2 years  
Sugar, brown4 months  
Sugar, confectioners18 months  
Sugar, granulated2 years  
Tea bags18 months  
Tea, instant2 years  
Vegetable oils6 months  
Vegetable shortening3 months6-9 months
Vinegar2 years  
Water, bottled1-2 years  
Whipped topping (dry)1 year  
Yeast, dryPkg. exp. date 

Vegetables

 Food

 Pantry (Room Temperature)

   Refrigerator
(33°F to 40°F)

 Freezer
(0°F)

Asparagus 2-3 days8 months
Beets 2 weeks 
Broccoli 3-5 days 
Brussels sprouts 3-5 days 
Cabbage 1 week 
Carrots 2 weeks 
Cauliflower 1 week 
Celery 1 week 
Corn (husks) 1-2 days8 months
Cucumbers 1 week 
Eggplant 1 week 
Green beans 1-2 days8 months
Green peas 3-5 days8 months
Lettuce 1 week 
Lima beans 3-5 days8 months
Mushrooms 2 days 
Onions1 week3-5 days 
Onion rings (precooked, frozen)  1 year#
Peppers 1 week 
Pickles, canned1 year1 month* 
Frozen potatoes  8 month
Sweet potatoes2-3 weeks  
White potatoes2-3 months 
Potato chips1 month  
Radishes 2 weeks 
Rhubarb 3-5 days 
Rutabagas1 week  
Snap beans 1 week 
Spinach8 months
Squash, Summer 3-5 days 
Squash, Winter1 week  
Tomatoes 1 week 
Turnips 2 weeks 
Commercial baby food, jars1-2 years^2-3 days 
Canned vegetables1 year^1-4 days* 
Canned vegetables, pickled1 year^1-2 months*
Dried vegetables6 months  
Frozen vegetables  8 months
Vegetable soup 3-4 days3 months

Fruits

 Food

 Pantry (Room Temperature)

   Refrigerator
(33°F to 40°F)

 Freezer
(0°F)

ApplesUntil ripe1 month 
ApricotsUntil ripe5 days 
AvocadosUntil ripe5 days 
BananasUntil ripe5 days (fully ripe)
BerriesUntil ripe3 days1 year
Canned fruit1 year2-4 days* 
Canned fruit juices1 year3-4 days* 
CherriesUntil ripe3 days 
Citrus fruitUntil ripe2 weeks 
Dried fruit6 months2-4 days+ 
Frozen fruit  1 year
Fruit juice concentrate 6 days1 year
Fruit pies, baked 2-3 days8 months
GrapesUntil ripe5 days 
MelonsUntil ripe5 days 
NectarinesUntil ripe5 days 
PeachesUntil ripe5 days1 year
PearsUntil ripe5 days1 year
PineappleUntil ripe5-7 days1 year
PlumsUntil ripe5 days 

Dairy Products

 Food

 Pantry (Room Temperature)

   Refrigerator
(33°F to 40°F)

 Freezer
(0°F)

Butter 1-2 months9 months
Buttermilk 2 weeks 
Cottage cheese 1 week3 months
Cream cheese 2 weeks 
Cream-light, heavy, half- and-half 3-4 days1-4 months
Eggnog commercial 3-5 days6 months
Margarine 4-5 months12 months
Condensed, evaporated and dry milk12-23 months^8-20 days*
Milk 8-20 days 
Ice cream and sherbet  2 months
Hard natural cheese (e.g. cheddar, swiss) 3-6 months6 months
 4 weeks* 
Hard natural cheese, sliced 2 weeks 
Processed cheese 1 month6 months
Soft cheese (e.g. brie) 1 week6 months
Pudding 1-2 days* 
Snack dips 1 week* 
Sour cream 2 weeks 
Non-dairy whipped cream, canned 3 months 
Real whipped cream, canned 3-4 weeks 
Yogurt 2 weeks1-2 months

Meats

 Food

 Pantry (Room Temperature)

   Refrigerator
(33°F to 40°F)

 
Freezer
(0°F)

Fresh beef and bison steaks 3-5 days6-9 months
Fresh beef and bison roasts 3-5 days9-12 months
Fresh pork chops 2-3 days4-6 months
Fresh lamb chops 3-5 days6-8 months
Fresh veal 1-2 days4-6 months
Fresh ground meat (e.g. beef, bison, veal, lamb) 1 day3-4 months
Cooked meat 2-3 days2-3 months
Canned meat1 year3-4 days*3-4 months
Ham, whole 1 week1-2 months
Ham, canned1 year1 week*3-4 months
Ham, canned "keep refrigerated" 6-9 months
 1 week*3-4 months
Shelf-stable unopened canned meat (e.g. chili, deviled ham, corn beef)1 year1week* 
Ham, cook before eating 1 week 
Ham, fully cooked 2 weeks 
 1 week* 
Ham, dry-cured1 year1 month 
Ham salad, store prepared or homemade 3-5 days 
Bacon 2 weeks1 month
 1 week* 
Corned beef, uncooked 5-7 days1-2 months
Restructured (flaked) meat products  9-12 months
Sausage, fresh 1-2 days1-2 months
Smoked breakfast sausage links, patties 1 week2 months
Sausage, smoked (e.g. Mettwurst) 1 week1-2 months
Sausage, semi-dry (e.g. Summer sausage) 2-3 weeks*6 months
Sausage, dry smoked (e.g. Pepperoni, jerky, dry Salami)1 year1 month*6 months
Frankfurters, bologna 2 weeks1-2 months
 3-5 days* 
Luncheon meat 2 weeks1 month
 3-5 days* 
Meat gravies 1-2 days2-3 months
TV beef and pork dinners  18 months#
Meat based casseroles 3-4 days4 months
Variety meats (giblets, tongue, liver, heart, etc.) 1-2 days3-4 months
Vinegar pickled meats (e.g. pickled pigs feet)1 year^2 weeks* 

Fish

 

Food

 Pantry (Room Temperature)

 Refrigerator
(33°F to 40°F)

 Freezer
(0°F)

Breaded fish  4-6 months
Canned fish1 year1-2 days* 
Cooked fish or seafood 3-4 days3 months
Lean fish (e.g. cod, flounder, haddock) 1-2 days6 months
Fatty fish (e.g. bluefish, salmon, mackeral) 1-2 days2-3 months
Dry pickled fish 3-4 weeks 
Smoked fish 2 weeks4-5 weeks
Seafood-clams, crab, lobster in shell 2 days3 months
Seafood-oysters and scallops 1-2 days3-4 months
Seafood-shrimp 1-2 days1 year
Seafood-shucked clams 1-2 days3-6 months
Tuna salad, store prepared or homemade 3-5 days 

Poultry And Eggs

 Food
Pantry (Room Temperature)
 Refrigerator
(33°F to 40°F)
 Freezer
(0°F)
Chicken nuggets or patties   1-2 days  
Chicken livers   1-2 days 3 months
Chicken and poultry TV dinners     6 months
Canned poultry^ 1 year 1 day*  
Cooked poultry   2-3 days 4-6 months
Fresh poultry   1 day 1 year
Frozen poultry parts     6-9 months
Canned poultry   1 day 3 months
Poultry pies, stews, and gravies   1-2 days 6 months
Poultry salads, store prepared or homemade   3-5 days  
Poultry stuffing, cooked   3-4 days 1 month
Eggs, in shell   3-5 weeks  
Eggs, hard-boiled   1 week  
Eggs, pasteurized   10 days 1 year
  3 days*  
Egg substitute   10 days 1 year
  3 days*  
Egg yolks (covered in water)   2-4 days 1 year
Egg whites (For each cup of egg yolk add 1 Tbs. of sugar or salt) 2-4 days 1 year
Wild Game      
Frog legs   1 day 6-9 months
Game birds   2 days 9 months
Small game (rabbit, squirrel, etc.)   2 days 9-12 months
Venison ground meat   1-2 days 2-3 months
Venison steaks and roasts   3-5 days 9-12 months
Virginia Cooperative Extension  Legend: *Opened +Cooked ^Refrigerate after opening #After manufacture date
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