It's time to stop being so wasteful with our food! Quit wondering “how long does food last in the fridge?” and know exactly how long your food is good for. Save money and stop throwing perfectly good food away!

Pulling meat out of the refrigerator, from Shelf Cooking

Are you the type who leaves food in the fridge for a day or two and then decides to toss it because it's “gone bad”? Or maybe you prefer to leave your food in the fridge for a whole week before touching it again. Are you always wondering “how long does food last in the fridge, anyway?”

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Oh boy, are you in for a treat! Your days of trying to figure out if your food is still good or not are about to be gone. No more wasting food, no more constantly wondering if you're going to get food poisoning, and no more being in the dark when it comes to food storage times! So do a little happy dance and let's get to it.


The USDA has set specific guidelines to ensure food safety. Nobody has the time or wants to get food poisoning, just trust us on that! 😉 Meats on this list below are raw (we'll get to the cooked leftovers in just a few):

  • Bacon – 1 week
  • Chicken salad – 3 to 4 days
  • Chops – 3 to 5 days
  • Egg salad – 3 to 4 days
  • Ground meats – 1 to 2 days
  • Ham, uncured – 3 to 5 days
  • Ham, cured – 5 to 7 days or “use by” date
  • Ham salad – 3 to 4 days
  • Hot dogs, opened – 1 week
  • Hot dogs, unopened – 2 weeks
  • Lunch meat, opened/deli sliced – 1 week
  • Lunch meat, unopened – 2 weeks
  • Macaroni salad – 3 to 4 days
  • Roasts – 3 to 5 days
  • Sausage – 1 to 2 days
  • Steaks – 3 to 5 days
  • Tuna salad – 3 to 4 days

If you noticed, there's nothing about raw chicken in this list… That's because chicken is so particular that it has its very own detailed post! So be sure to check that out for all of your chicken questions.


What came first, the chicken or the egg? Oh wait, we're not answering that question! What we will share is how long you can expect for eggs to keep in their various forms in the fridge:

  • Egg substitutes, liquid, opened – 3 days
  • Egg substitutes, liquid, unopened – 1 week
  • Hard-boiled eggs – 1 week
  • Raw egg whites and yolks – 2 to 4 days
  • Raw, in the shell – 3 to 5 weeks

Intriguing, no? Eggs are a great way to get some healthy fats and protein into your diet, so it's always good to keep them on hand. Use these guidelines to make sure you're not throwing them out too early or keeping them in your fridge for too long!

Pro Tip: Do the float test when you're not sure how old your raw eggs in the shell are. Put eggs in a bowl and cover them completely with water. As long as they still touch the bottom, even if it's just one part of the egg, then they're still good. If they float and no longer touch the bottom, they're old and need to be thrown out!


Leftovers stacked on the counter in containers from Shelf Cooking

So you've cooked your meat and now you have leftovers for the week! Just make sure you get around to eating them before they go bad. Luckily, they last a little longer in the fridge once they've been cooked than when they're raw.

Plan for a weekly leftover night that will allow you to eat your leftovers in the appropriate amount of time or have them for lunch during the week. Just stick to these guidelines and you'll be good:

  • Basic leftover meals – 3 to 4 days
  • Cooked meat – 3 to 4 days
  • Casseroles – 3 to 4 days
  • Pizza – 3 to 4 days
  • Sausage – 1 week
  • Soups and stews – 3 to 4 days

If you won't get around to eating them this week, no worries! Rather than tossing them in the trash, wrap 'em up in a freezer-safe dish and toss them in the freezer instead. They make a great way to have a quick freezer meal, and it's a lot cheaper than buying the prepackaged ones!


There are so many different types of ham! However, they don't all store for the same amount of time. But don't worry, we've got you covered! Follow these guidelines and you won't ever have to worry about your ham going bad:

  • Canned, labeled “keep refrigerated,” unopened – 6 to 9 months
  • Canned, shelf-stable, opened – 5 to 14 days
  • Country – 1 week
  • Store-wrapped, slices, half, or spiral cut – 3 to 4 days
  • Store-wrapped, whole – 1 week
  • Vacuum-sealed at plant, unopened – “Use by” date
  • Uncured – 3 to 4 days
  • Prosciutto – 2 to 3 months

Now you don't ever have to worry about what type of ham you're buying at the store because you're unsure of how long it'll last once you get it home. You're welcome. 😉


Frozen foods in bags to prevent  prevent freezer burn from Shelf Cooking

The freezer is about to become your new best friend! Why? Because it's the! You're about to see that food lasts so. much. longer. in the freezer than it does in the fridge.

There are so many different foods you can freeze, it's unreal! Here are the guidelines for how long you can freeze meats:

  • Bacon – 1 month
  • Basic leftover meals – 2 to 6 months
  • Casseroles, baked – 2 to 3 months
  • Chops, raw – 4 to 12 months
  • Eggs, raw, beat together – 12 months
  • Ground meats – 3 to 4 months
  • Hot dogs – 1 to 2 months
  • Lunch meat – 1 to 2 months
  • Pizza, cooked – 1 to 2 months
  • Meat, cooked – 2 to 6 months
  • Roast, raw – 4 to 12 months
  • Sausage, cooked – 1 to 2 months
  • Sausage, uncooked – 1 to 2 months
  • Soups and stews – 2 to 3 months
  • Steaks, raw – 4 to 12 months

Isn't it crazy how much longer they'll last in the freezer versus the fridge? Just be sure to freeze them properly to prevent freezer burn. Use freezer bags for the meat and make sure you get as much air out as possible.

Pro Tip: Double what you're cooking and freeze a portion for a future quick and easy meal for the whole family. Just be sure to triple wrap your casserole in foil. You can also store your soup in airtight containers.


Ham is another one that freezes really well! Follow these times and you won't ever have to worry about your freezer ham going bad:

  • Country – 1 month
  • Cured, cooked – 1 to 2 months
  • Cured, uncooked – 3 to 4 months
  • Uncured, cooked – 3 to 4 months
  • Uncured, raw – 6 months

We suggest freezing it in appropriate meal-size portion containers. That way, you can pull out exactly how much you need at a time. It'll stretch your meat further and it'll keep you from possibly being wasteful with it.

Another great way to keep from being wasteful with your food is to keep a kitchen inventory. This will allow you to see exactly what you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. If you write down what foods you put into your fridge and freezer as you do it, then you'll easily be able to keep up with how long they've been in there. That way, you don't have to worry about forgetting when you put something in the fridge and letting it go bad before you can eat it.

So, there you have it! What are your favorite foods to freeze? Let us know in the comments!

Image with Text: "How long does food last in the fridge or freezer?" from Shelf Cooking

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Happy cooking!