I believe we are all guilty when it comes to neglecting our fridges when it comes to opened, leftover and expired foods. We’ve all been there that plate of leftovers that get pushed to the back and every day you keep telling yourself you’ll eat it until it’s too late and you pull it out to find frightening furry green stuff growing on top! Along with our leftovers, we really should be paying attention to all the foods and beverages that are in our fridge. To some people, this might be earth-shattering news but to others, this may sound like common sense but an expiry date isn’t the same once that food has been opened! When your food is labeled with a “best before” date, that refers to how long the food will keep the flavor and nutritional value for as well as how long until bacteria may start growing inside (the shelf life). Once you open that said food or drink it is is a whole other story and everything then gets a new lifespan.

If you neglect these time frames you risk the growth of unwanted bacteria to start growing in your fridge like Listeria, Salmonella, and E.Coli. This can happen because once a food item has opened the product then becomes immediately exposed to the air and floating dust particles that can contain bacteria and mold growth. Once you open the product the preservation process becomes completely lost. Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature and that is why we store many food items in the fridge, the low temperatures help slow the growth of these bacterias. Together we will discover 20 common foods found in our fridges and how long they keep both opened and unopened. Keep in mind all foods discussed below are based on a fridge that keeps its temperature around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or 4-5 degrees Celsius). It is really important to keep track of when you opened your food and how long you are keeping it for so if you don’t have an immaculate memory you may want to consider labeling it once it has been opened or when in doubt if the food is suited to, consider freezing it for later.

1. Hard and Soft Cheese

There is a large variety of cheeses and different kind of cheeses can keep longer than others. For example, hard cheeses like parmesan can last up to four months in your fridge unopened. However, once it is opened you only have about three to six weeks before it is time to toss.

A semi-hard cheese like cheddar can last in your fridge for about two months unopened but only three or four weeks opened. Whereas a softer cheese like cream cheese is quite a bit shorter. An unopened soft cheese can last in your fridge for about three to four weeks but when it is opened it can last only one to two weeks.

Play it safe: Hard Cheese 3 weeks, Soft Cheese 1 week

2. Butter

Butter can last in your fridge for about one to three months. However, some manufacturers will guarantee their product for up to six months if it is stored in the fridge properly. If the butter remains unopened you have up to a month after the expiry date before it goes bad but once it’s been opened after the best before date you have about 1 to two weeks to consume it.

Furthermore, margarine’s lifespan is slightly different than butter. If you purchase a stick of margarine it will only last in the fridge for a week. Whereas an unopened tub of margarine can last for can last up to five months if it is stored properly in the fridge. Once you open a tub of margarine it will only stay fresh for about one month. You may be tempted to stock up on butter or margarine if it’s on sale but if you don’t use it very often that may not be the smartest choice.

Play it safe: 1 month

3. Fresh Eggs and Hard Boiled Eggs

When it comes to fresh eggs you can usually get about three to five weeks until they go bad in the fridge. You do not want to eat a bad egg because it can cause you to feel sick to your stomach and may cause you to experience diarrhea, no thank you! This could happen within 12-72 hours after consuming a bad egg.

If you decide to hard boil your eggs that is a different story. Hard-boiled eggs can only last for about a week stored in the fridge so make sure to eat them right away.

Play it safe: Raw 3 weeks, Hard-boiled 1 week

4. Olives and Pickles

Pickling is the process of preserving the lifespan of food. This is done either by anaerobic fermentation in brine or another method, complete immersion in vinegar. Both olives and pickles, as well as other pickled foods, go through this process to give them a unique flavor while expanding their lifespan. Olives that have been opened can be stored in the fridge for about four to six months. And they are usually safe to eat up to three months past their expiry date when they have been opened.

Secondly, pickles can last in the fridge for about one to two years once they have been opened. That is a very long time and if you think you might have them kicking around that long you may want to label your jar to remember when you first opened them so that you don’t go past that generous time frame.

Play it safe: Olives 4 months, Pickles 1 year

5. Packaged and Open-Packaged Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are a popular choice when it comes to the barbecue season and camping season. They’re salty and savory, there’s no wonder why all the picky eaters love this food item. However, once you purchase a package of hot dogs you only have about two weeks past their best before date before they go bad.

Whereas once you open a package of hot dogs they will only keep in the fridge for one week. The same goes for cooked hotdogs, you only have a week to eat up your leftovers before they spoil. You’ll want to make sure you either cook up the whole package or freeze these to save for a later date.

Play it safe: 1 week after opening, 1 week after cooking

6. Cooked and Raw Bacon

Bacon can be incorporated into every meal. It makes a great breakfast side to compliment cooked eggs, it makes a great sandwich topping for lunch and compliments many many dinner dishes too. Its salty and crispy flavor are a few of the reasons why so many people love it. Have you ever thought about how long it can actually last in your fridge though?

Raw bacon can last only one week in the fridge so make sure you plan to cook it the same week you buy it or you’ll need to stick it in the freezer for a later date. Cooked bacon can last for about seven to 10 days but always try to consume it as soon as you can to maintain a fresh taste. Let’s be real bacon probably won’t go more than a couple days in your fridge if you’re a true bacon lover.

Play it safe: Raw or cooked, 1 week

7. Berries

Berries are a delicious fruit that is commonly liked because of their sweet flavor. Some more tart than other but there is bound to be berry out there for everyone depending on your acquired tastes. Keep in mind when purchasing blueberries they can last in the fridge for five to 10 days. You’ll only get a couple days out of them if your store them on your counter so it may be best to keep them in the fridge as soon as you buy or pick them.

Secondly, strawberries have a fridge life of about five to seven days. Keep in mind if you decide to cut up your strawberries they will only store in the fridge for about one to three days before for it’s time for them to go in the compost. Lastly, you can store raspberries in the fridge for about two to three days so make sure to eat these guy up quickly. A quick tip if you know you won’t be eating your berries the same day you purchase them only wash what you’re going to eat because if you wash them all and then stick them back into the fridge they can spoil sooner.

Play it safe: 5 days

8. Leafy and Woody Herbs

Leafy herbs include things such as coriander, parsley, mint, basil, and oregano. Leafy herbs can keep in your fridge for about three days before they go bad. You could consider growing your own herbs and only picking what you need. A herb plant will last longer than freshly cut in the fridge.

Furthermore, woody herbs will survive differently in the fridge. Some woody herbs include rosemary and thyme. These kinds of herbs can last up to two weeks stored in the fridge. While fresh herbs often provide a more potent flavor you can always consider purchasing dried herbs if you are finding they are going to waste too often.

Play it safe: 3 days

9. Deli Meat

Deli meat is a popular choice when it comes to adding protein to a sandwich or wrap. You can buy deli or lunch meat in a prepackaged form, freshly sliced from a deli or even roast and then slice your own. If you choose to buy fresh deli meat keep in mind it will only keep in the refrigerator for five to six days before it is time to toss it.

If you buy prepackaged lunch meat more often you can keep your meat in the fridge unopened for up to two weeks. However, once that package becomes opened you only have about five to seven days before it isn’t good anymore.

Play it safe: 5 days

10. Left-Over Cooked Meat (fish, chicken, beef etc)

When it comes to the meat department most meat will keep for roughly the same amount if it is cooked and stored in the fridge for leftovers. If you decide to keep fresh poultry including chicken and turkey in the fridge it will only keep for about one to two days.

Next, fresh steaks, chops, and roasts this includes beef, lamb, veal and pork will keep fresh in the fridge for about three to five days. It is best to freeze your meat right away if you don’t think you’ll be cooking it within the next couple of days. Cooked meat, poultry, and fish will keep in the fridge for three to four days. So make sure if you’re planning on meal prepping you don’t go past four days worth of meals to ensure you aren’t eating spoiled leftovers.

Play it safe: 3 days

11. Lettuce

Lettuce makes the perfect base for a salad or makes a complimentary item to a sandwich. Lettuce also comes in many different types and varieties such as green leaf lettuces, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce and so much more. But did you know your lettuce might not last as long as you think in your fridge?

Iceberg lettuce, as well as romaine lettuce, can last in the fridge for up to seven to 10 days. Green and red leaf lettuce can last in the fridge for five to seven day. However, chopped and loose lettuce will only last three to five days stored in the fridge. It is recommended that lettuce that isn’t pre-washed shouldn’t be washed until you are ready to use to help prolong its lifespan in the fridge.

Play it safe: 7 days

12. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are considered a fungus so it can seem interesting to know that they don’t have a very long lifespan once they have been stored in the fridge. There are many edible varieties of mushrooms that compliment many different kinds of dishes. As a general rule of thumb remember mushrooms, including common varieties such as white, button, portabello, shiitake, and oyster, last in their whole raw form for about seven days in the fridge.

The best way to keep them fresh is to store them in a brown paper bag instead of a plastic bag or airtight container. Furthermore, chopped raw mushrooms will only last for about one to two days before they spoil. And lastly cooked and leftover mushrooms will last in the fridge for up to five days.

Play it safe: Chopped/Raw 2 days, Cooked 5 days, Fresh/Whole 7 days

13. Leftover Pizza

Pizza the ultimate comfort food, am I right? There’s a reason why so many parents use this as an easy take-out option because they love it and the kids love it too. And not to mention it makes the perfect late night snack after a night out with your friends. Admit it, we have all been there had a crazy night and left that pizza on the counter and the morning time rolls around and you want that delicious pizza for breakfast. Make sure you think twice about that decision the next time you’re tempted to grab a slice. Pizza will only keep for up to two hours once it is left at room temperature, it does have meat and cheese and other food items on it you know so there is no wonder why it would spoil if it is left out!

You will get more life out of your pizza if you do remember to store the leftovers in the fridge. You can get about three to four days out of leftover pizza as long as it is stored in the fridge properly. Make sure to not stretch it past that benchmark so you can avoid a catastrophe in the stomach and rear region the next day if you know what I mean!

Play it safe: 3 days

14. Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce can complete the perfect pasta dish and they come in a large variety of flavors and textures such as tomato-based pasta sauce, cream based and oil-based as well as some come in dry packets. There are a few things to remember when storing pasta sauce and really anything that comes in a can. Keep in mind canned items, though as nonperishable food items will become perishable as soon as they’re open, make sure to consume them or store them in the fridge or freezer properly. And then further never ever store pasta sauce or any canned food in the fridge left in the can. Not only can this cause botulism (a type of food poisoning that can be deadly) but the metals can leak into the food that is inside. This can make the pasta sauce or foods to have an unpleasant taste and can also have poor health effects.

The type of pasta sauce will determine what kind of lifespan it has in the fridge. For example, tomato-based sauces can store in the fridge for up to four days whereas a cream-based pasta sauce can keep in the fridge for up to seven days once it has been opened. Oil-based pasta sauces can keep in the fridge for up to two weeks and dry packet sauces that have been prepared can keep in the fridge for seven to ten days. A quick tip to help further prevent the spread of bacteria in canned and jarred foods is to wash or wipe the container before opening. Make sure to also examine your can opener, make sure it is clean and free of rust before you use it.

Play it safe: 4-7 Days

15. Pasta, Egg & Meat Salads

We all know what leftover leaf lettuce looks and tastes like in the fridge, especially with dressing, soggy and wilted. Other premade salads have short lives too like egg salad, chicken salad, ham, tuna and macaroni salad.

These salads are excellent potluck dinner ideas but keep in mind the leftovers won’t go much further than three to five days. So if you won’t be eating it all to yourself be sure to send leftovers home with friends or your food may just go to waste because these types of salads will not freeze well.

Play it safe: 3 days

16. Salad Dressing

There are so many varieties of salad dressings that are accessible to us. They can be anywhere from a creamy salad dressing to a vinaigrette based salad dressing. There is something out there to perfectly compliment every salad. Salad dressings can even be an exquisite ingredient for cooking like marinating meat or to season potatoes, the options truly are endless.

A cream salad dressing such as Caesar or ranch will keep for one to two months after it has been opened. Whereas a vinaigrette dressing such as Greek salad dressing or a sundried tomato will last up to three months. Keep in mind if you often make your own homemade salad dressing a vinaigrette will keep up to two weeks maximum and a dairy-based homemade dressing will keep up to only a week long. I think we’re all guilty of keeping past due salad dressing in the fridge. This may be a good one to label once you open it because that best before date is not an accurate reference number as we learned prior.

Play it safe: Store-bought 1 month, Homemade 1 week

17. Vegetable and Meat Broth

Broth is what generally makes up the base of a soup but can also be used in may baked dishes like casseroles for flavor. Whether you like to use vegetable broth or a meat broth once opened it will only keep in the fridge for about a week. Try using it on a week where you can implement it into several recipes so your broth doesn’t go to waste.

Further, if you make your own homemade broth that will only keep in the fridge for no more than four days. If you know you aren’t going to use the leftovers right away consider freezing it to store for later.

Play it safe: Store-bought 1 week, Homemade 4 days

18. Milk And Milk Alternatives

Milk of the dairy variety can keep from about 5 to 7 days past the sell by date which is printed on the packaging. Keep in mind the longer you go the nutritional value will decrease. Don’t stretch it passed that or you may find yourself feeling quite ill. Also, a quick tip never stores your milk at room temperature for long and keep your milk in the main area of your fridge, not the door to prevent frequent fluctuations in temperature.

A lot of milk alternatives like a nut milk can often be stored in the pantry until you are ready to drink them. However, once you open a carton of dairy-free milk it is recommended that you use it within seven to 10 days.

Play it safe: 7 days after opening

19. Salsa

Whether you love salsa as a chip dip or love cooking with it it’s good to know how long you can store it in your fridge for. A store-bought salsa that has been unopened can last for one and even up to two months past it’s printed expiry date. If you choose to let it go that long make sure you choose to consume it with a day or two after opening.

Following, once you open a jar of salsa it will only keep fresh in the fridge for about one to two weeks and then it will be time to toss it. However, if you choose to make your own homemade salsa with fresh ingredients keep in mind that will only keep in the fridge for about five to seven days.

Play it safe: Store-bought 1 week, Homemade 5 days

20. Ketchup

Ketchup generally has a very long expiry day that can be anywhere from a year to two years long, due to the acidic conditions. If you’re a ketchup lover like myself and put it on everything then you probably won’t need to worry about its expiry date too much. Considering it usually has a long lifespan this makes a great food item to stock up on when it goes on sale because you know you can store it for long periods of time.

Keep in mind once you open a bottle of ketchup you should only keep it in the fridge for up to six months before it’s time to toss it. You may want to label your bottle once you open it since it keeps for a generous amount of time you may forget six months down the road that you even opened it.

Play it safe: 6 months after opening

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa loves experimenting with food of all cultures to make unique healthy dishes. When she’s not browsing Pinterest for new recipe inspiration she likes to pick up a DIY project and use her creative hands to make art or crafts. In her down time you can find her watching the latest documentaries on Netflix or going for nature walks.

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