Adequate Data: Food Shelf Lives

Grains

ItemFreezerRefrigeratorCounter/ Pantry
Bread (loaf)2–3 months1–2 weeks5–7 days
Cake (frosted)1 month2 weeks1 week
Cake (unfrosted)2–3 months1 week3–4 days
Cheesecake2–3 months1 week1 day
Cookies (baked)2–3 months1 month1 week
Cookie Dough6–8 months2–3 weeks2–3 days
Macaroni & Cheese (leftover)1–2 weeks3–5 days4–5 hours
Muffins (baked)6–12 months2 weeks2–3 days
Pancakes3 months1 week1 day
Pancake Mix2 months2 weeks6 hours
Pie (fruit, baked)6–8 months1 month1–2 days
Pie (fruit, unbaked)2–4 months1 week1–2 days
Pie (pumpkin or pecan)1–2 months1 week1–2 days
Pizza (leftover)1–2 weeks3–4 days1–2 hours
Rice (cooked)1 month3–4 days1 day
Rolls (baked)2–3 months2 weeks5–7 days
Rolls (dough)1 month1–2 weeks1 day
Sandwich (prepared)NEVER1–2 days2–8 hours
Spaghetti with Meatballs (leftover)2–3 weeks1–2 days2–3 hours
Waffles1 month4 days4 hours

NOTE: Store in clear plastic in a well-lit, dry area.

Fruits

ItemFreezer*RefrigeratorCounter/ PantryBest Method
Apples8–12 months1–2 months2–4 weeksUncut, unwrapped
AvocadosNEVER3 days4 days to ripenedCountertop to ripen, refrigerator when ripe
Avocados (halved)NEVER1 day4 hoursSqueeze lemon juice on its flesh and seal it in plastic wrap
Bananas2–3 months5–9 days2–7 daysUncut, unwrapped
Bananas (halved)1 month1–2 days1 dayPeel on, flesh wrapped in foil
Berries8–12 months3–5 days1 dayUncovered, vented container
Citrus3 months3 weeks1–2 weeksUncut, unwrapped
Citrus (halved)NEVER2–3 days1 dayPlastic wrap
CoconutNEVER2–3 months1 monthUncut, unwrapped
Melons8–12 months1 weekUntil ripened 
Grapes3–5 months1–2 weeks3–5 daysPerforated plastic wrap
Kiwifruit3–4 months1 week5 daysUncut, unwrapped
Lemons3–4 months1–2 months2–4 weeksUncut, unwrapped
Mangoes2–3 months2 weeks5 daysPlastic bag
Melons2–3 months2 weeks5 days once ripenedUncut, unwrapped on a countertop
Melons (halved)1 month7–10 days2–3 daysPlastic wrap
Papaya2-3 months2 weeks4 daysPlastic bag
Peaches8–12 months5 daysUntil ripeCountertop to ripen, refrigerator when ripe
Pears8–12 months2 weeks4 days once ripenedUncut, unwrapped
Pineapples3–5 months4–5 days2–3 daysUncut, unwrapped
Plums8–12 months5 daysUntil ripenedCountertop to ripen, refrigerator when ripe
Strawberries6–8 months5–7 days1–2 daysWrap in a paper towel and seal with plastic wrap
Tomatoes8–12 months2 weeks5–7 daysUncut, unwrapped, in a dark place outside the refrigerator in a vented container
WatermelonNEVER1–2 weeks3–4 daysUncut, unwrapped

* Most fruits can be stored in the freezer when they’re puréed.

Vegetables/Spices

ItemFreezer*RefrigeratorCounter/ PantryBest Method
AsparagusNEVER3–4 days1 dayStems in water, lightly cover the top in a plastic bag
BasilNEVER1 week1 dayStems in water, fully cover the top in plastic
BeetsNEVER2 weeks1 weekPlastic bag
Bell PepperNEVER3–4 days2 daysPlastic wrap
Broccoli8–12 months7–14 days2 daysPlastic wrap
CabbageNEVER2 weeks2 daysPlastic wrap
Carrots8–12 months3 weeks0–4 daysPlastic bag
Cauliflower8–12 months5 days2 daysPlastic wrap
CeleryNEVER2 weeks2 daysBottom in water like a flower pot, cover with a plastic bag, ALTERNATELY wrap it in foil
Chili Peppers8–12 months2 weeks4 daysPlastic bag
ChivesNEVER5 days1 dayWrap in a damp paper towel or plastic wrap
CilantroNEVER1 week2 daysStems in water, lightly cover top in a plastic bag
Corn2 months3–4 days1 dayPlastic wrap
Cucumbers8–12 months1 week1–3 daysWrap in a dry paper towel and seal with plastic wrap
Eggplant/Aubergine/BrinjalNEVER2 weeks1 dayPlastic wrap
Garlic1–2 years1 month2 monthsDark place outside refrigerator
Ginger1 year1 month2 weeksUncut, unwrapped
Ginger (cut)6 months1–2 weeks2 daysPlastic bag with a dry paper towel
GreensNEVER7–10 days3–4 daysLarge plastic container layered with dry paper towels
Green Beans8–12 months1 week0-1 dayPlastic bag with a dry paper towel
LettuceNEVER1 week0-1 dayWrap in a dry paper towel and seal with plastic wrap
MushroomsNEVER1 week3–4 daysBrown paper bag
OnionsNEVER2 months2 weeksDark place outside refrigerator
Onions (halved)NEVER1–2 weeks2 daysSealed plastic bag
ParsleyNEVER1 week2 daysStems in water, lightly cover top in a plastic bag
PotatoesNEVER2 months1–2 monthsBrown paper bag outside refrigerator
PumpkinNEVER2 months2 monthsDark place outside refrigerator
Radishes8–12 months2 weeks1 weekWrap in a dry paper towel and seal with plastic wrap
RosemaryNEVER2 weeks3 daysPlastic wrap
Salad with Dressing (leftover)1–2 weeks3–5 days2–3 hours 
Spices & Herbs (ground and dried)12 months10 months6–9 months 
SpinachNEVER2 weeks3 daysUnwrapped
Summer SquashNEVER5 days5 daysPlastic bag
Sweet Potatoes/YamsNEVER2 weeks2 weeksBrown paper bag outside refrigerator
ThymeNEVER2 weeks3 daysPlastic wrap
Vegetable Soup2–3 months1–2 weeks2 hours 
Winter SquashNEVER2 weeks1 monthDark place outside refrigerator
ZucchiniNEVER1 week2 daysWrap in a dry paper towel and seal with plastic wrap

* Most high-fiber vegetables can be stored in the freezer when they’re puréed.

Meats/Nuts

ItemFreezerRefrigeratorCounter/ PantryBest Method
Bacon (opened)4 months1 week2 hours 
Bacon (unopened)4 months2 weeks2 hoursSealed bag with no air
Beef Chops4–6 months1–2 weeks2 hours 
Beef Ground Hamburger6–8 months1–2 days2 hoursSealed bag with no air
Beef Roasts1 year1–2 weeks2 hoursSealed bag with no air
Beef Tongue/Liver/Kidneys/Heart3–4 months1–2 weeks2 hours 
Cold Cuts2–3 months2 weeks unopened, 5 days opened4 hours 
Broths & Soups2–3 months1–2 weeks2 hoursClosed pot or freezer bag
Chicken (prepared dishes)4–6 months2 weeks3 hours 
Chicken (fried)4 months1 week3 hours 
Chicken (ground)3–4 months1 week2 hoursSealed bag with no air
Chicken Nuggets1–3 months1–2 weeks5 hoursPackaging it came in
Chicken (whole)1 year1–2 days2 hoursSealed bag with no air
Chicken (parted)9 months1–2 days2 hoursSealed bag with no air
Fish (fatty)2–3 months1 day2 hoursSealed bag with no air
Fish (lean)6–9 months1 day2 hoursSealed bag with no air
Ham (cooked)2 months1–2 weeks2 hours 
Hot Dogs (opened)1–2 months1 week2 hours 
Hot Dogs (unopened)1–2 months2–3 weeks5–6 hours 
Lamb (raw)9 months1–2 days2 hours 
Lunch Meat (opened)1–2 months3–5 days2 hours 
Lunch Meat (unopened)1–2 months2 weeks2 hours 
Nuts3 months1–2 months1 month 
Pork (ground)3–4 months1–2 days2 hours 
Pork Chops4–6 months1–2 weeks2 hours 
Pork Roasts4–12 months1–2 weeks2 hours 
Sausages (raw, opened)1–2 months1–2 days1–2 hours 
Sausages (raw, unopened)1–2 months2 weeks2–6 hours 
Sausages (fully cooked)1–2 months1–2 days2 hours 
Shellfish2–3 months1 day1 hourShallow tray, single layer, covered with a damp paper towel
Steak6–12 months1–2 days2 hours 
Turkey (ground)3–4 months1–2 days2 hours 
Turkey (whole)1 year1–2 days2 hours 
Turkey (parted)9 months1–2 days2 hours 
Veal9 months1 week2 hours 
Venison3–4 months1 week2 hours

NOTE: The optimum surface color for meat is very short-lived and changes from oxygen exposure, so the color doesn’t matter nearly as much as odor for detecting quality:

  • Beef: cherry-red
  • Lamb: dark cherry-red
  • Pork: grayish-pink
  • Veal: pale pink

Dairy

ItemFreezerRefrigeratorCounter/ PantryBest Method
Butter6–9 months1–3 months10 days 
Cheese (fresh)6–8 months1 week3 daysIn water, change every 2 days
Cheese (hard)6–8 months1–4 months1–3 monthsWrapped in brown paper, then wrapped lightly in plastic wrap
Cheese (soft)6–8 months2–3 weeks1–4 hoursWrapped in brown paper, then wrapped lightly in plastic wrap
Eggs (hard-boiled)NEVER2–3 weeks2–3 days 
Eggs (raw)NEVER3–4 weeks2–3 hours 
Milk3-6 month5–7 days0–3 hours 
Yogurt1–2 months2–3 weeks0–3 hours

NOTE: Milk itself never technically becomes inedible, but spoiled milk can taste rancid.

Condiments/Drinks

ItemFreezerRefrigeratorCounter/ Pantry
Coffee (ground)2–3 years1 year1 year
Coffee (instant)2–20 years2–20 years
Coffee (whole bean)3–4 years2 years2 years
Honey∞, not recommended
Juice (from concentrate)1 year3–4 months1 week
Juice (homemade)6 months2–3 months3–4 days
KetchupNEVER1 year1 year
Mayonnaise (after opening)NEVER14 months2–3 months
SodaNEVER6–9 months6–9 months
Soda (diet)NEVER3–5 months3–5 months