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food shelf life guide

How long does food last?  

You know when the food in your fridge has turned: The lettuce is more brown than green. Milk has an unmistakably sour smell. 

But what about all those other items you have at home? 

Since it's hard to know how long food lasts based on labels (if an item has one), this food shelf life guide can help you decide what's safe for dinner - and what's not.

food shelf life of pantry items.

  • Condiments: Unopened (on shelf): 2 months to 1 year; opened (in fridge): 1 to 6 months.

  • Flour, all purpose: Unopened (on shelf): 6 to 8 months.
  • Jams, jellies, preserves: Unopened (on shelf): 1 year; opened (in fridge) 6 months.

  • Pasta, dried: Unopened (on shelf): 2 years.
  • Rice, white or wild: Unopened (on shelf): 18 months to 2 years; opened (in fridge): 1 year (uncooked).
  • Soda and carbonated water: Unopened (on shelf): 3 to 9 months; opened (in fridge): 2 to 3 days.
  • Tuna: Unopened (on shelf): 3 years; opened (in fridge): 2 to 4 days.

food shelf life of perishables.

  • Apples: On counter: 1 to 2 days; in fridge: 3 weeks.
  • Baking potatoes: On shelf: 2 to 3 months.
  • Bananas: On shelf until ripe; in fridge: 2 days.
  • Cheese (mozzarella or cheddar): 3 to 6 months (unopened).
  • Eggs: 3 weeks.
  • Lettuce: 3 to 5 days.
  • Milk: 4 days.
  • Onions: 3 weeks to 1 month on shelf; 2 months in fridge.
  • Raisins: 9 months on shelf; 18 months in fridge.

frozen food shelf life.

  • Breads: 2 months in freezer.
  • Butter: 9 months in freezer; 1 week in fridge after thawing.
  • Chicken: 6 months in freezer; 1 day in fridge after thawing.
  • Fish and shellfish: 3 months in freezer; 1 to 2 days in fridge after thawing.
  • French fries: 6 months in freezer; 1 day in fridge after thawing.
  • Ground beef: 2 to 3 months in freezer; 1 to 2 days in fridge after thawing.
  • Ice cream: 8 months in freezer.
  • Vegetables: 8 months in freezer; 3 to 4 days in fridge after thawing.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for food storage products and supplies designed to keep frozen, refrigerated, and shelf-stable foods safe in your kitchen.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.