Food Storage Guidelines

Nine comprehensive charts help you decide how long is too long when it comes to food in your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer.

You don't have to be modest, you can admit it. You have a fabulously fully-stocked kitchen. Anything and everything that anyone could ever want rests quietly in the cupboard shelves, kitchen cabinets and refrigerator bins. But how long have some of those foods been on those shelves? And how long is too long?

We have put together some handy charts to help you distinguish "still good" from "time to toss." So, keep lining those shelves with cans and boxes and don't stop piling in the fruits and veggies, just make sure you know when to replace them.

Staples

Bread, Pastries and Cakes

Dairy Products - Real and Substitutions

Fruits, Vegetables and Juices

Meats, Poultry and Seafood

Mixes and Packaged Foods

Canned and Dried Foods

Spices, Herbs and Condiments

Others

 

Staples
Food Product

Storage Life

Baking Powder

18 months or expiration date

Baking Soda

24 months

Bisquick

Expiration date

Bouillon

24 months

Bread Crumbs, dried

6 months

Bread - Rolls

3 days

Bulgar 6-12 months

Cereals - Unopened

6-12 months

Cereals - Opened

2-3 months

Cereal - Hot, dry

6 months

Chocolate - Pre-melted

12 months
Chocolate - Semi-sweet 18 months

Chocolate - Unsweetened

18 months

Chocolate Syrup - Unopened

24 months
Chocolate Syrup - Opened 6 months
Cocoa

Indefinite

Cocoa Mixes

8 months

Coffee

24 months

Coffee Lighteners (dry)

9 months
Cornmeal 12 months

Cornstarch

18 months
Drink Mix - Country Time Lemonade 24 months
Drink Mix - Crystal Light 24 months

Drink Mix - Kool Aid

18-24 months

Flour - White

6-8 months
Flour - Whole Wheat 6-8 months

Gelatin, all types

18 months

Grits

12 months

Honey

12-24 months

Jellies, Jams

12 months

Molasses

12+ months

Marshmallow Cream

3-4 months
Marshmallows 2-3 months

Mayonnaise

2-3 months

Milk - Condensed, unopened

12 months

Milk - Evaporated, unopened

12 months
Milke - Nonfat, dry, unopened 6 months

Pasta

24 months
Pectin - liquid or dry, unopened

12 months or expiration date

Rice - White 24+ months

Rice- Brown, Wild

6-12 months

Rice - Flavored or Herb

6 months

Rice - Minute

18 months

Salad Dressings - Bottled, unopened

10-12 months

Salad Oils

6 months

Oil - Crisco or Puritan

24 months

Oil - Corn

18 months
Oil - Vegetable 6 months

Shortening, solid

8 months

Vinegar (in container with plastic lid)

Indefinitely

Salt

Indefinitely

Sugar - Brown 18 months
Sugar - Confectioners'

24+

Sugar - Granulated Indefinitely

Sugar - Artificial Sweeteners

24 months

Syrup - Corn

36 months
Syrup - Pancake 3-4 months

Tea - Bags

18 months
Tea - Instant 36 months

Teat - Loose

24 months

Vinegar - Unopened

24 months
Vinegar - Opened 12 months

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Bread, Pastries and Cakes

Food Product

Storage Life:

Refrigerator

Storage Life:

Freezer

Unbaked Rolls and Breads

2-3 weeks

1 month

Partially-Baked Cinnamon Rolls

 

2 months

Baked Quick Breads

 

2 months

Baked Muffins

 

6-12 months

Baked Breads with no preservatives

2-3 weeks

2-3 months

Unfrosted Doughnuts

 

2-4 months

Waffles

 

1 month

Unbaked Fruit Pies

1-2 days

2-4 months

Baked Fruit Pies

2-3 days

6-8 months

Pumpkin or Chiffon Pies

2-3 days

1-2 months

Baked Cookies

 

6-12 months

Freezer Pie Shells

 

12 months

Cookie Dough

 

3 months

Unbaked Cake Batter

 

1 month

Frosted Baked Cakes

 

1 month

Unfrosted Baked Cakes

 

2-4 months

Angel Cakes

 

6-12 months

Fruit Cakes

 

6-12 months

Refrigerated biscuits, rolls, pastries, cookie dough

Expiration date

 

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Dairy Prodcuts - Real and Substitutes
Food Product

Storage Life:

Refrigerator

Storage Life:

Freezer

Butter 1-2 weeks  
Buttermilk 1-2 weeks  
Cheese - Cottage, Ricotta 1-2 weeks 4 weeks
Cheese - Cream, Neufchatel 2 weeks  
Cheese - Hard, Wax-Coated 1-2 months 6-8 months
Cheese - Sliced 2 weeks  
Cheese - Cream Cheese, soft 5-6 days  
Cheese - Parmesan Romano, grated 2 months  
Cheese - Processed 3-4 months 6-8 months
Dips - Commercial 2 weeks  
Dips - Homemade 2 days  
Eggs - In Shell 3 weeks  
Eggs - Whites or Yolks 2-4 days 1 year
Eggs - Hard Cooked 1 week  
Egg Custards, Fillings, Pastries or Cream Pies 1-2 days  
Egg Substitutes - Opened 3 days  
Egg Substitutes - Unopened 10 days 1 year
Margarine 4-6 months 12 months
Milk - Evaporated, opened 4-5 days  
Milk - Homogenized, dry nonfat 5 days  
Milk - Sweetened, condensed, opened 4-5 days  
Sour Cream 2 weeks  
Whipped Topping - Can 3 months  
Whipped Topping - From Mix 3 days  
Whipped Topping - Cool Whip (eg.) 2-3 weeks 14 months
Yogurt 7-10 days  

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Fruits, Vegetables and Juices
Food Product

Storage Life:

Refrigerator

Storage Life:

Freezer

Apples

1 month

8-12 months

Apricots, Grapes, Nectartines, Peaches, Pears, Plums 3-5 days

8-12 months

Artichokes

1 week

 

Asparagus

2-3 days

8-12 months

Avocados

3-5 days

8-12 months

Bananas, Plantains

 

8-12 months

Beets, Carrots

2 weeks

8-12 months

Beans, Broccoli, Lima Beans, Peas, Summer Squash

3-5 days

8-12 months

Berries, Cherries 2-3 days 8-12 months

Cauliflower

1 week

8-12 months

Celery, Cabbage, Chilies, Green Beans, Peppers, Tomatoes

1 week

8-12 months

Cilantro, Parsley

1 week

8-12 months

Citrus Fruit 3 weeks

4-6 months

Corn

Day purchased

8-12 months

Cranberry Cocktail, canned

5-6 days

3-6 months

Greens - Colards, Kale, Mustard, Spinach, Swiss Chard

3-5 days

8-12 months

Greens - Lettuce and Salad

1 week

 

Green Onions

3-5 days

 

Guavas, Papayas

1-2 days

8-12 months

Kiwis

3-5 days

4-6 months

Mangoes

 

8-12 months

Melons

1 week

8-12 months

Mushrooms, Okra

1-2 days

8-12 months

Pineapple

2-3 days

4-6 months

Juices - canned, bottled or reconstituted 6 days 8 months
Pre-mixed, full strength Fruit Juice Expiration date  

Radishes

2 weeks

 
Real Lemon 12 months  

Squash, hard

 

8-12 months

For a more detailed breakdown of storing fruits and vegetables, see Selecting and Storing Fruits and Selecting and Storing Vegetables.

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Meats, Poutry and Seafood

Food Product

Storage Life:

Refrigerator

Storage Life:

Freezer

FRESH MEAT

Beef Roasts, Steaks

3-5 days

6-12 months

Chicken or Turkey, pieces

1-2 days

9-12 months

Chicken or Turkey, whole

1-2 days

1 year

Duck, Goose

1-2 days

6 months

Game Birds

1-2 days

6 months

Giblets

1-2 days

3-4 months

Ground Meat, 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, Lamb Chops and Chicken Breasts

1 day

4-6 months

Sausage

1-2 days

1-2 months

Variety Meats: Heart, liver, tongue, etc.

1-2 days

1-2 months

Venison, roasts, steaks, chops

3-5 days

6-12 months

COOKED MEATS

Breakfast Sausage, smoked

7 days

1-2 months

Ham - Whole

7 days

1-2 months

Ham - Half

3-5 days

1-2 months

Ham - Slices

3-4 days

1-2 months

Ham - Canned

6-9 months

 

Hot Dogs, Luncheon Meats - Unopened

2 weeks

1-2 months

Hot Dogs, 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 SEAFOOD

Lean Fish - Cod, Flounder, Trout, Haddock, Halibut, Pollack, Perch

1-2 days

4-6 months

Fatty Fish - Mullet, Smelt, Salmon, Mackerel, Bluefish, Tuna, Swordfish

1-2 days

2-3 months

Live Crabs and Lobsters

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

COOKED FISH

Fish Sticks

 

18 months

Breaded Shrimp, commercial

 

1 year

Cooked pieces

3-4 days

3 months

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Mixes and Packaged Foods

Food Product

Storage Life

Biscuit, Brownie, Muffin Mixes

9 months

Cake Mixes

9 months

Casseroles (complete or add own meat)

9-12 months

Cookies

2-3 weeks

Krusteaz Mixes

24 months

Pillsbury Mixes

18 months

Betty Crocker Mixes

8-12+ months

Jiffy Mixes

24 months

Crackers

3 months

Stove Top Dressing Mix

Expiration Date

Frosting

3 months
Hot-Roll Mixes 18 months

Pancake Mixes

6-9 months

Pie Crust Mixes

8 months

Pies and Pastries

2-3 days

Potatoes - Instant

6-12 months

Pudding Mixes

12 months

Rice Mixes

6 months

Rice-a-Roni

Expiration Date

Pasta-Roni

Expiration Date

Rice and Sauce

9-12 months

Sauce/Gravy Mix

6-12 months

Soup Mix

12 months

Soup Base

12 months

Country Kitchen Soup

36 months

Toaster Pastries

2-3 months

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Canned and Dried Foods

Food Product

Storage Life

Canned Tomato Sauce

12 months

Canned Cheese Sauce 24-36 months

Canned Tuna, Fish and Seafood

5 years

Canned Cranberry Sauce

Expiration date

Canned Fruits

36+ months

Canned Fruit Pie Fillings

24-36 months

Black Label Ham

Expiration date

Canned Meat

36 months

Canned Chicken

36 months

Canned Soup

Expiration date

Canned Tomatoes

36+ months

Canned Vegetables

24-48 months

Canned Baked Beans

24 months

Canned French Fried Onions

24 months

Canned Ragu Spaghetti Sauce

Expiration date

Canned Five Brothers Pasta Sauce

24 months

Canned Fruit Juices

6 months

Juices

12-24 months

Dried Fruits

6 months

Dried Vegetables

12 months

Dried Peas and Beans

12 months

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Spices, Herbs and Condiments

Food Product

Storage Life

Catsup

18-24 months

Chili Sauce

24 months

Mustard - Yellow, Prepared

24 months

Jar Pickles

12-24 months

Spices

12-24 months

Steak Sauce

24 months

Tabasco Sauce

60 months

Extracts

24 months

Vanilla

12 months

Vegetables - Dehydrated, flaked

6 months

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Others

Food Product

Strorage Life

Cheese - Parmesan, grated 10 months

Coconut, shredded, canned or packaged

12 months

Imitation Bacon Bits

12 months

Instant Breakfast

6 months

Nuts

4 months

Nuts - In Shell

24 months

Nut Meats Package

3 months

Peanut Butter

6-9 months

Jif Peanut Butter

24 months

Popcorn

24 months

Freeze-Dried Mushrooms

24 months

Whipped Topping (dry)

12 months

Yeast (dry)

Expiration date

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Storage information compiled with the help of the Clemson Extension Home and Garden Information Center and the North Dakota State University Extension Service.

Reviews (9)

  • R4L, Just another article that I can use, in more than one way! Keep up, or doing/sending all of us this important info. pickup2 Thank you much!

    Flag as inappropriate pickup2  |  September 21, 2011

  • I don't understand the 5 to 6 days on the soft cream cheese? I bought a large box at Cost-Co in July and the expiration date says Sept. 30 TH.???

    Flag as inappropriate Pattie59  |  September 12, 2011

  • Another article very useful, but, spices is my "hang-up" When you don't have or it's old, I need another article to let me make my "poultry seasoning". Many of them, I do know "off the top o'my head". But too many, No way. I'm sure you can help, many of us, I'm thinking. Carolyn.......pickup2

    Flag as inappropriate pickup2  |  September 11, 2011

  • Burgher1, for the best flavor, you should use frozen pasta sauce within 6 months.

    Flag as inappropriate ksteed  |  August 11, 2011

  • how long can homemade tomato sauce be kept in the freezer before using?

    Flag as inappropriate burgher1  |  August 10, 2011

  • Hi beartwombly, thank you for pointing out that error. We have amended the chart.

    Flag as inappropriate ksteed  |  October 15, 2010

  • Under canned &dried foods IT has canned baby.Cannned baby what ???

    Flag as inappropriate beartwombly  |  October 12, 2010

  • Good info though I do keep some things unopened in freezer or refrigerator longer than recommended with no problem.

    Flag as inappropriate sherriguiness  |  June 23, 2010

  • Very helpful

    Flag as inappropriate nepaa1  |  October 3, 2009


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