To Toss or Not to Toss
Here's a guide to help you maintain the quality of foods kept in your fridge & freezer.
- Remember to check the thermometer periodically -- the inside of the refrigerator should be cold (40° F or lower) and the freezer should be 0°F or lower.
- Once a week, throw out perishable foods or leftovers that have been in the fridge for more than 3-4 days.
- Always check the package date for specific storage information about a food -- the time periods below are general storage guidelines.
|Food ||In the Refrigerator ||In the Freezer|
|Milk ||5-7 days || |
|Yogurt ||7-10 days || |
|Cheeses ||6 months, unopened |
3-4 weeks, opened
|Apples ||1-3 weeks || |
|Lettuce ||5-7 days || |
|Frozen Vegetables || ||8 months|
|Bacon ||2 weeks, unopened |
1 week, opened
|Luncheon Meats ||2 weeks, unopened |
1 week, opened
|Ground Beef ||1-2 days ||2-3 months|
|Chops/Roast ||3-5 days ||6-12 months|
|Fresh Poultry ||1-2 days ||6-12 months|
|Frozen Pizza || ||1-2 months, unopened|
|Dressings ||3 months> || |
|Mayonnaise ||2 months || |
|Catsup ||1 month or longer || |
|Mustard ||6-8 months || |
|Eggs in the shell ||4-5 weeks || |
Giving food the deep freeze keeps it safe to eat almost indefinitely. But if items have been in frozen animation for quite awhile, it might be time to give them the old heave-ho for quality's sake. Not sure how long is too long? Here are some additional tips:
- Freezer burn dries out food but does not make it unsafe. Exposure to air causes the food's surface to form grayish-brown leathery spots. Minor areas can be cut away before or after cooking. Heavily freezer-burned foods should be discarded for quality reasons.
- Other color changes in food can be due to abnormally long storage, freezer burn or lack of oxygen. The bright red color of meat usually turns dark or pale brown. This is acceptable unless there appears to be extensive freezer burn.
- Frozen vegetables or cooked foods may turn a dull color due to excessive drying from improper packaging or lengthy storage. Again, discarding them is a matter of quality, not safety.