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
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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

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

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

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

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

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