Does This Smell Bad to You? How Long Foods Last


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

A major way to stop wasting food and your money is to know how long basic items last in the freezer and fridge.

You got a killer deal on 5 pounds of bacon with your club card. Now you’re wondering how many strips your stomach and heart can take before those delectable applewood-smoked slices go bad.

Have no fear: They will keep for up to a week in the fridge and still be delicious up to a month when frozen.

Knowing how long basic foods remain edible can reduce both the waste of food and your money. Says the Natural Resources Defense Council:

The average American throws away between $28 to $43 in the form of about 20 pounds of food each month. … About two-thirds of household waste is due to food spoilage from not being used in time, whereas the other one-third is caused by people cooking or serving too much.

Fortunately, many staple food items last much longer than you would expect. Sick of grilled cheese for lunch? Those individually wrapped slices of American cheese will keep in the fridge for a month or two.

But while frozen foods are said to keep indefinitely, that does not mean they’ll remain at top quality and be palatable.

If you have a question about a particular item’s shelf life in your freezer or fridge, StillTasty offers a handy “Keep It or Toss It?” feature. Just type in your query or check their listings of pretty much any food or drink imaginable and the magic timing will pop up. The site also explains how to properly store foods to get the best results.

While most of us smell and visibly inspect foods suspected of being past their prime, experts say the absence of mold or foul odors is not a clear indication that an item remains edible.

“You cannot see, smell or taste many harmful bacteria, so although the food may look ‘safe’ to eat, it is not. When in doubt, throw it out,” Weill Cornell Medical College says.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the shelf life of some basic food groups in the refrigerator and in the freezer:

Breads

  • Tortillas, sold refrigerated — one to two months in the fridge; three months in the freezer.
  • White bread — five to seven days in the pantry (not the fridge); three months in the freezer.
  • Unbaked homemade cookie dough — one or two days; four to six months.

Dairy

  • Butter — one to three months in the fridge; six to nine months in the freezer.
  • Hard cheeses — four weeks if opened; six months.
  • Soft cheeses — one week; six months.
  • Milk — seven days; one month.
  • Yogurt — two to three weeks; one to two months.

Meats

  • Raw ground beef — one to two days in the fridge; three to four months in the freezer.
  • Steaks — three to five days; six to 12 months.
  • Lean fish — one to two days; six months.
  • Fatty fish — one to two days; two to three months.
  • Whole chicken or turkey — one to two days; one year. If it’s cut into pieces before freezing, the parts should be used within nine months.

Fruits and vegetables

  • Bananas — five to seven days in the fridge after they’re ripe; two to three months in the freezer.
  • Lemons — one to two months; three to four months.
  • Broccoli — two weeks; eight to 12 months.
  • Carrots — four to five weeks; eight to 12 months.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation says most fruits and vegetables can last from eight months to a year if packaged correctly and frozen at or below 0 degrees.

Miscellaneous

  • Leftover pizza — three to four days in the fridge; two months in the freezer.
  • Tuna salad — three to five days in the fridge. Tuna salad does not fare well in the freezer, FoodSafety says.
  • Opened bottle of Champagne — three to five days in the fridge. Freezer time is not applicable.

In general, leftovers should be eaten within three or four days. The Mayo Clinic says that after a few days, the risk of contracting food poisoning increases. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them immediately, the clinic suggests.

Here are some tips to reduce food waste and help food last as long as possible:

  • “A good policy to remember and follow is ‘first in, first out.’ Rotate foods so that you use the older items first and enjoy your food at its best quality,” the National Center for Home Food Preservation says. If you’re freezing the food, put a date on the label.
  • For the tastiest foods and best storage, your refrigerator should be set to 40 degrees or colder.
  • It goes without saying that the fresher the produce, the longer it will last once you get it home. Keep that in mind if you don’t plan to eat it right away.
  • The USDA suggests that food be frozen at peak quality for the best taste once thawed.

If you’re freezing food, tips offered by the National Center for Home Food Preservation include:

  • If you’re blanching or cooking first, cool food prior to freezing to help retain flavor, color and texture.
  • Use leak-proof packaging to protect food from other flavors and odors.
  • Use containers or bags made specifically for freezer use.
  • Allow enough space for the food to expand without popping the seal.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 50 Ways to Make a Fast $50

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,009 more deals!