People and Pets


Food Storage Charts

Refrigerator Storage Chart

Keep the refrigerator temperature between 34 and 40°F. If it rises above 40°F, food quickly spoils. Wrap foods in foil, plastic wrap, or bags or place in airtight containers to keep food from drying out and odors from being transferred from one food to another. Food kept longer than the recommended times may be usable but of inferior quality.

Food Time Special Handling
Butter 1-3 months Hold only 2-day supply in a butter keeper.
Buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt 2 weeks  
cottage, ricotta
cream, Neufchatel
hard and wax-coated (cheddar, edam, gouda, swiss, etc.) large pieces
parmesan, grated
processed (opened)

5 days
2 weeks

3-6 months
3-4 weeks
2 weeks
12 months
3-4 weeks
2 weeks

Keep all cheese tightly packaged in moisture-resistant wrap.



Unopened processed cheese need not be refrigerated.

Cream–light, heavy, half-and-half 1 week Keep tightly covered.
Dips–sour cream, etc.

2 weeks
2 days
Keep tightly covered.
Keep tightly covered.
in shell

1 month 2-4 weeks 2-4 weeks
Keep small end of egg down to center yolks.
Cover yolks with water; cover container.
Margarine 1 month One week for best flavor.
evaporated (opened)
filled, imitation
pasteurized, reliquified nonfat dry, skimmed
sweetened condensed
1 week
3-4 days
1 week

1 week
Keep containers tightly closed. Do not return unused milk to original container. This spreads bacteria back to remaining milk.
Whipped topping, in can
prepared from mix
3 months
3 days
Apples 1 month Do not wash before storing–moisture encourages spoilage. Store in crisper or moisture-resistant bags or wrap. Keep fruit juices tightly covered. It is not necessary to remove canned fruit from the can.
Apricots, avocados, bananas, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears 5 days
Berries, cherries 3 days
Citrus fruit 2 weeks
Grapes, plums 5 days
Pineapple 2 days
Asparagus 3 days  
Beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips 2 weeks Remove any leafy tops before refrigerating.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green onions, zucchini 5 days  
Cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, peppers, tomatoes 1 week If necessary, ripen tomatoes at room temperature away from light before refrigerating.
Corn 1 day Leave in husk.
Lettuce, spinach, all leafy greens 5 days Rinse and drain before refrigerating.
Limas, peas 5 days Leave in shell.
Beef, lamb, pork, veal
ground meat
stew meat
3-5 days
1-2 days
3-5 days
3-5 days
1-2 days
If not prepacked, wrap loosely in wax paper so surface can dry slightly.
Variety meats (liver, heart, etc.) 1-2 days  
Processed meats*
bacon, frankfurters
hams (whole, halves)
hams, canned (unopened)
luncheon meat, slices
sausage, fresh or smoked
1 week
1 week
6 months
5 days
2-3 days
Store in coldest part of refrigerator. Unopened vacuum packs keep about 2 weeks.
Fresh, cleaned fish
steaks, fillets
1 day Keep wrapped in plastic wrap or bag.
Clams, crab, lobster in shell 2 days Cook only live shellfish.
Seafood–shucked clams, oysters, scallops, shrimp 1 day  
Ready-to-cook chicken, duck, or turkey 2 days May be stored in transparent wrap as purchased.
Baby food 2-3 days Store baby food covered. Don’t feed baby from jar; saliva may liquify food.
Fish, seafood; poultry 1 day Store all canned foods tightly covered. It is not necessary to remove food from the can.
Fruit 1 week
Gravy, broths 2 days
Meats 2 days
Pickles, olives 1 month
Sauce, tomato-based 5 days
Vegetables 3 days
*Treat uncured or nitrite-free meats like fresh; refrigerate only 4 to 7 days.

Food Storage Charts Home  |  Pantry Chart  |  Refrigerator Chart  |  Freezer Chart  |  PDF Document

Jean Weese, Professor, Auburn University; Extension Specialist for Food Safety

This document is part of a larger publication titled Emergency Handbook: Preparation and Recovery (ACES-2168).

The Emergency Handbook is available digitally as an iBook and on the web. Use the left-hand navigation bar to access all topics and pages. This publication is not available in print. To download or print the pages you need, please look for Printable PDF Download this information.

For more information, contact your county Extension office.