Wondering how long you can keep food in the refrigerator before it goes bad? Ultimately, it will depend on several factors, such as the type of food, if the product is opened or unopened and the expiration date. Below we look at some common food items to give you some guidance on refrigerator food storage.
How long does meat last in the fridge? There’s a lot of variation in safe refrigeration time depending on the type of meat. An unopened pack of hot dogs will last about 2 weeks, while an opened pack will last for 1 week. Raw chicken will last 1 to 2 days, while raw beef, lamb, pork or veal steaks, chops and roasts will last 3 to 4 days. Most uncooked fish and shellfish has about a 2-day lifespan in the refrigerator. However, the timeline changes when looking at how long cooked food lasts in the fridge. When meat is cooked and stored in the fridge as leftovers, it typically lasts 3 to 4 days.
Some dairy products – milk, cheese and yogurt – will have a sell-by date or an expiration date that can help you determine if it’s gone bad. Dairy also gives a pretty distinct smell once it’s expired, so if it doesn’t smell right, throw it out. In general, milk and milk alternatives will last about a week, yogurt will last for 2 weeks and eggs will keep for about 5 weeks. Butter, cheese, sour cream and heavy cream can last anywhere from 1 week to 6 months, depending on the type you’ve purchased.
When it comes to produce, squash, onions and garlic have the longest fridge life, up to 2 to 3 months. Raspberries, strawberries, leafy greens, tomatoes, melon, blueberries, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms will last 3 days to 1 week. Again, check for signs of spoil like mold before consuming.
If your home loses power, how long will the food in the fridge keep before you need to throw it out? If the power is out for 4 hours or less, your food should be fine. However, when the power is out longer, you’ll need to discard perishable items like meat and dairy. For specifics, refer to the food safety chart from the Federal Government.
These guidelines can help you determine how long food might last in your fridge. As always, the general rule of thumb for fridge food storage applies – when in doubt, throw it out.