“Is this still safe to eat?” This is a question that we’ve all probably asked ourselves at one point or another. We all know the first thing you should do is check the expiration date on the packaging for an answer. But for some items we keep in the fridge, there are no printed expiration dates. So what do you do?
Today we have a very general guide on how long a few common foods will typically keep fresh in the refrigerator. Please note that these are suggestions. How long an item will keep in the fridge depends on the refrigerator, when the item was purchased, if it was opened, when it was stored, and a number of other factors.
To keep your food fresher longer, make sure that your refrigerator is at or below 40°F. It’s also important to note that once food has been opened, cut into, etc. the shelf life shortens significantly.
Raw Ground Meats, Poultry, & Fish: These foods will typically stay fresh for 1-2 days
Salads: Particularly mayonnaise based salads like egg salad, chicken salad, and potato salad. These dishes will keep for 3-5 days if stored immediately
Raw Cuts of Meat: Certain cuts of meat like beef steaks and pork chops will stay fresh for 3-5 days
Luncheon Meats: Deli meats will typically stay fresh for between 3-5 days once opened. Vacuum sealed luncheon meats will keep for up to 2 weeks if unopened.
Leftovers: Most leftovers will be fine in the fridge for 3-4 days as long as they are stored properly
Hard Cheeses: As long as they have not been opened/cut into, these will stay fresh for up to 6 months
Butter: Butter tends to vary, lasting anywhere between 1 and 3 months
Eggs, Fresh, In Shell: Eggs will stay fresh for between 3-5 weeks
Olives/Pickles: Once opened, a jar of olives or pickles will stay fresh for up to 1 month
Apples: Apples will typically stay fresh for 3 weeks, if not longer. Be sure to check for any bruising/soft spots before consuming
Lettuce: Leaf lettuce will typically stay fresh for 3-7 days before beginning to wilt, while iceberg lettuce will keep 1-2 weeks
Condiments: This seems to be the thing that people most often forget to check. Generally, condiments like hot sauce, mustard, soy sauce, and chocolate syrup will keep for about a year.
However, things like barbecue sauce and salad dressings expire sooner (after approximately 6 months) so be sure to look for an expiration or best if used by date. If you have had any condiments in your refrigerator for over a year, it’s time to swap them out for new ones.
If you’re ever in question as to whether something is still safe to eat that has been in your refrigerator for a while, you should probably throw it away to be safe. You should also check for an expiration, best if used by date, signs of spoilage, and/or mold regularly. To ensure freshness and avoid compromising the quality of your food, store food properly as soon as possible.
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