Storing Food Guidelines

Jiuseppe M Russo RD, CD-N, Clinical Dietitian Manager

Foods that stay too long in the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry are not always unsafe to eat, but they can lose their quality. Bacteria, molds, and yeasts may start to grow, along with the possible loss of nutrients.

Guide for keeping perishable foods safe and at peak quality:

Fresh Foods

Refrigerator

Freezer

Beef, roasts, steak

3–5 days

6–12 months

Pork roasts

3–5 days

4–12 months

Pork chops

3–5 days

4–6 months

Ground meat

1–2 days

3–4 months

Leftover cooked meats

3–4 days

2–3 months

Fresh poultry

1–2 days

9–12 months

Cooked poultry

3–4 days

4–6 months

Fish

1–2 days

3–6 months

Deli meats

3–5 days

1–2 months (airtight)

Hot dogs (opened)

7 days

1–2 months (airtight)

Bacon

7 days

1 month

Milk

7 days

1 month

Eggs

3–5 weeks

Not recommended

Processed/hard cheese

1 month

4–6 months (airtight)

Berries

3–5 days (fresh)

9–12 months

Fruit (citrus, apples)

1 month

8–12 months

Vegetables

3–7 days

8–12 months

Dry Good Foods

Dry Storage

Flour

12 months

Pasta

12 months

Cake and muffin mixes

6–9 months

Spices and herbs

1–2 years

Berries (dried)

6 months

Berries (canned)

12 months

Canned fruit

9 months

Vegetables (dehydrated)

1 month

Vegetables (canned)

12 months

Food Storage Tips
Follow these food storage suggestions:
Prepared foods: Use caution when buying prepared poultry, meat, fish, eggs, or salads with meat, chicken, fish, or eggs at salad bars, grocery stores, or restaurants. These spoil very easily. Make sure they are kept and served either very cold or very hot, and consume them quickly.
Eggs: Avoid eating raw and under cooked eggs, because they may cause food-borne illnesses.
Expiration dates: Read expiration dates carefully.
Frozen food labels: Clearly label foods that are frozen with a “made on” date or “throw out by” date.
Questionable foods: Discard any food if you are in doubt as to whether it is OK to eat. Do not take the chance. Sometimes foods may taste fine when they are spoiled or unfit to eat.
Wash produce: Wash all fruits and vegetables with warm water and vinegar or soap.
Clean hands and surfaces: Wash your hands, cutting boards, and counter tops thoroughly.
Proper heating: Heat or reheat all foods to the proper temperature.
Utensils: Serve foods with a clean serving spoon. Do not use your eating utensil to serve yourself or others, because germs from your eating utensil may hasten food spoilage.

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