Skip to main content

How Long Do Foods Last in the Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry?

Remember those carefree days a few weeks back when you would sashay off to the grocery store any time you needed some ground beef for your barbecue, some butter for your bread, or some arugula for your plate full of arugula? In the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, every trip away from home potentially exposes you to a deadly virus that you are right to fear and respect, yet you and your family still have to eat.

man looking in fridge
Maskot / Adobe Stock

That means the occasional trip to the grocery store or calling on the services of food delivery companies to get your groceries for you. What the coronavirus also means is more focus than ever before on preventing food waste. And the best way to prevent food waste is to learn proper food storage techniques and to know for how long the various edibles in your home will remain safe to eat. (Also, you can probably cut down on portion size a bit without even noticing it.)

Below you’ll find the shelf, fridge, and freezer life facts on myriad types of food; While we can’t cover every single foodstuff out there, this will give you a sense of how long your eats will last, and therefore what you might want to eat first.

(One note before we dive in: Once meat has been thawed, it must be cooked and eaten, you can’t safely refreeze it. So don’t.)

Fresh Fruit

frozen fruit in a bowl
Shutterstock

If your berries are starting to turn, freeze them! They will maintain nutrients and flavor for well over a year, and think of the smoothies. Here’s your rundown on multiple types of fruit:

 Pantry/Counter Fridge Freezer
Apples 7 to 12 days 4 to 6 weeks 1 year (but skin, core, and slice them first)
Bananas 3 to 6 days 6 to 9 days 7 to 12 months (also consider drying them)
Strawberries  1 day 4 to 8 days 12 months +
Oranges 1 to 2 weeks Up to a month Not so good frozen…

Starches

bowl of potatoes
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Now might be a good time to start making your own bread — refrigerated yeast can last up to half a year.

 Pantry/Counter Fridge Freezer
Flour 1 year 2 years “Best by” date + 2 years
Bread 5 to 8 days 1 to 2 weeks Up to 3 months
Potatoes 1 to 2 weeks 3 to 4 weeks Don’t freeze raw potatoes

Dairy

freezer with strawberry ice cream
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Yes, you can freeze milk and use it later just like, well, milk.

 Pantry/Counter Fridge Freezer
Milk Absolutely not. 3 to 5 weeks 3 to 6 months
Butter 2 to 4 days 6 to 9 months 12 months
Ice Cream A few minutes Fridge? Dude, no. Up to 3 months

Meats

Image used with permission by copyright holder

While many meats last many months in the freezer, be sure to look for signs of freezer burn that might indicate partial thawing and refreezing, and know that nutrients and flavor degrade over time. For the record, we’re only talking about raw meat.

Fridge Freezer
Ground
Beef
2 to 5 days 4 to 6 months
Chicken 2 to 3 days
(longer if you bought very fresh)
Up to 6 months
Pork 3 to 6 days 6 to 9 months

Liquor

sipping whiskey fire
GummyBone/Getty Images

It’s adjacent to a foodstuff, right?

Pantry Fridge Freezer
Whiskey You are good
Gin Also good
Vodka Yep
Topics
Steven John
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
Try These 13 Simple Picnic Food Ideas
On a picnic date

A summer picnic doesn't have to be complicated to be lovely. Sure, you can add as many flourishes as you'd like, and really set the scene with decor that would put Hollywood set designers to shame. Or, you can grab your favorite person, a gingham blanket, a bottle of wine, a bit of privacy, and have a whole different vibe to your picnic.
There's beauty and fun in each of these scenarios, and in everything in between. So before asking your special someone to a private picnic for two, or scheduling a family day in the park, stop to consider what sort of feel you're going for in your small picnic. Intimate and sexy? Friendly and packed with lots of laughs? A fun way to entertain the kids on those long summer, school-less afternoons? Whatever your mission, feel free to keep it simple with these easy tips.

How Do You Make a Simple Picnic?

Read more
3 Things to Look For in Emerging Sustainable Food Brands
How to Know if Food Brands are Really Sustainable
Herd of Cows

Eating sustainably is challenging. In our intro guide to sustainable eating, we break down the high-level basics of starting the journey toward eating more sustainably. Reducing food waste and shopping locally are two easy ways to get started. However, what's not so easy is figuring out what food brands are genuinely sustainable. 

We all have busy lives, and researching every brand before we hit the grocery store is not practical for everyone. Also, food packaging doesn't always do a great job highlighting a food manufacturer's sustainability practices. To help us sort out what to look for in sustainable food companies, we reached out to Paul Lightfoot, Founder of BrightFarms, and creator of the Negative Foods Newsletter. 

Read more
What Is Genever and How Is It Related to Gin?
A bottle and a glass of Jenever on a wooden round table with grass as background.

Popular for ages in the Netherlands and Belgium, genever (also known as geneva, genievre, jenever, Holland gin, or Dutch gin) is a distilled malted spirit (like an unaged Scotch whisky) that is often blended with grain neutral spirit, then infused or further distilled with various herbs and spices, including a healthy amount of juniper, like gin. It can be clear, lightly aged, or aged in oak for several years.
It was genever that British soldiers “discovered” when fighting alongside the Dutch in the late 1500s (it served both medicinal and recreational functions and provided the term “Dutch courage," as it was swigged right before battle). This soon led to the creation of juniper-driven gin.

Gin is a ubiquitous bottle on bar carts and shelves, but an equally delicious and unique relative is often overlooked. Genever is a centuries-old distilled spirit that eventually led to the creation of the juniper-heavy gin most drinkers are familiar with. Unlike gin, however, which can be made anywhere, genever must be made in the Netherlands, Belgium, or parts of France and Germany.

Read more