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How Long Can I Store Foods in the Freezer and Fridge?

How Long Will It Last?

The other day I opened my refrigerator and pulled out the gourmet Italian bologna I had been snacking on earlier in the week. However, I was greeted by that gross, gag-inducing old lunchmeat smell. Disappointed and shocked, I wondered: Just how long does fresh sliced deli meat last? I did some research and came across an incredibly useful chart that lists tons of ingredients and how long they last in the fridge or freezer.

According to the chart, my open luncheon meat lasts just three to five days in the fridge. To check out the shelf life of a bunch of common ingredients,


Food Storage Chart
Ingredient Refrigerator Freezer
Fresh eggs in their shells 3 to 5 weeks Don't freeze
Raw eggs or yolks, out of the shell 2 to 4 days 1 year
Hard boiled eggs 1 week Don't freeze well
Store-prepared (or homemade) egg, chicken, ham, tuna, macaroni salads 3 to 5 days Don't freeze well
Hot dogs, opened package 1 week 1 to 2 months
Hot dogs, unopened package 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Luncheon meats, opened package 3 to 5 days 1 to 2 months
Luncheon meats, unopened package 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Bacon 7 days 1 month
Hamburger and stew meat 1 to 2 days 3 to 4 months
Steaks 3 to 5 days 6 to 12 months
Cooked meat and meat casseroles 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Uncooked chicken or turkey, pieces 1 to 2 days 9 months
Cooked Poultry 6 months, unopened
3 to 4 weeks, opened
4 months
Cheese, Hard (such as Cheddar, Swiss) 3 to 4 days 6 months
Cheese Soft (such as Brie, Bel Paese) 1 week 6 months
Cream Cheese 2 weeks Doesn't freeze well
Milk 7 days 3 months
Butter 1 to 3 months 6 to 9 months
Fresh fish 1 to 2 days 2 to 3 months
Cooked fish 3 to 4 days 4 to 6 months
Shrimp, scallops, crayfish, squid, shucked clams, mussels and oysters 1 to 2 days 3 to 6 months
Cooked shellfish 3 to 4 days 3 months

Don't see your ingredient on the list? Here is the complete list, which has even more items.


Guy2998420 Guy2998420 5 years
We're consistently hearing news stories telling us how some wooly mammoth or this or that was discovered in the frozen tundra and that it would be edible if one so chose. As far as I'm concerned, once something's canned or frozen, it can be left as an inheritance to your grandkids.
nikqui nikqui 7 years
Another helpful site is:
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
Luncheon meets ... really?
Babycakes1234 Babycakes1234 9 years
This is why there is so much have to throw things out according to standards like this. I know most of my items last longer than this and I've never had a problem.
Hautie Hautie 9 years
Deli meats.... for me... I love the Boar's Head smoked turkey breast that is sliced in the deli. But I have learned it will spoil within 4 days. If I get it on Sunday... there is a huge chance it will be spoiled by Thursday morning. Keeping in mind it is 8.99 a pound, I rarely purchase more than a half pound. But it is annoying that it does spoil that quick. Yet, the lunch meats that are prepackage... like the Hillshire Farms deli ham thin sliced... will last a week at least. I also agree with all the comments about hard cheese's lasting for week in the frig. I keep super sharp cheddar for weeks... without issue. But I know if you allow it to get to room temp. it seems to cause molding to happen very quickly.
caryatid caryatid 9 years
i go by "better safe than sorry". too many bad encounters with spoiled milk =(
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
I find these time frames to be quite conservative. I rely on the expiration date and the look, texture, and smell of the product.
ElleJay ElleJay 9 years
I'm confused- is this when these items are already in a recipie, or just sitting in the fridge- cuz my open cheeses (hard) last weeks, even months w/o mold or tasting bad. And milk I always go by the exp. date on the jug which is way longer than what this chart says.
Angelica Angelica 9 years
Wow, this is a really interesting chart, partysugar! I have a really big problem with finishing food before the expiration date. I appreciate this.
WineUnleashed WineUnleashed 9 years
The FDA chart is VERY conservative. I a VERY safe guideline that I would use just as a rough guideline. I like the link Tidalwave posted. Except for their wine notes: Wine (red, white) Unopened: 3 years from vintage date; 20 to 100 years for fine wines Opened: 1 week refrigerated and corked AARRRGGGHH!!! Ok, if it is a inexpensive wine (under $15) then yes, please consume within 3 yrs of the vintage date. But the rest of the wines in the world don't fall into the 20+ rule. Take for example a quality Pinot from California.... I wouldn't age one past 8 years. While a French Burgundy (Pinot Noir) could age up to 20. I am afraid to report that aging wine is more complex than English grammar.
shmuffin123 shmuffin123 9 years
I'm in disagreement with the a few as well, particularly the hard cheese. If people followed this then imagine the amount of food waste....I believe saavy or citizen had a graphic illustrating America's current food apply this chart...It'll double!
ragus ragus 9 years
Well I'm from the Great North West (God's Country!) and things seem to last longer than they do down here in Texas... Maybe its the humidity... but things don't go stale/hard like back home they go soggy/mushy like ... its interesting to see the differences in food storage
0danielle0 0danielle0 9 years
Thank you! I'm overly paranoid by this topic. :P
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
I have had cheese in my fridge for like a month and it's still good. This is a handy list though, Thanks!
gigill gigill 9 years
Thanks for this handy list.
CJaneTyp CJaneTyp 9 years
I don't believe that about the cheese OR lunch meat and also the cooked poultry certainly does not last in the fridge for six months.
ABBYmarieLOVE ABBYmarieLOVE 9 years
well i dont beleive the whole hard cheese only lasts that long. i worked in a deli and did alot of work in the specialty cheese department, and we did cheeses every month. Usually you just trim it and its still goood. cheese has a long shelf life. and deli meats vary, poultry, about 4-5 days tops because it has so much moisture, and ham lasts longer than poultry. but like salami, and bologna have longer. like salami can last for up 2 two weeks.
emalove emalove 9 years
I feel like the deli meat that comes pre-packaged lasts longer, doesn't it? When my husband and I buy sliced, fresh meat from the deli, we throw any leftovers out after 4 or 5 days.
jessie jessie 9 years
hmm..i do have to disagree with a few of those, but i did keep it marked in my computers favorites for futhers reference if needed.
lisabunny lisabunny 9 years
yeah i've kept cheese well wrapped in the fridge and it was good for weeks.
dmtroyer dmtroyer 9 years
3-4 days for Hard Cheese? Seriously?
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Hmmmm I have deli meat that doesn't go bad in 3-5 days.
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