How many times have you taken the yogurt out from the fridge only to find that it’s gone bad before the carton is empty? Do apples and bananas turn brown before your kids get to finish the whole kilo? Are leftovers crowding the back of your fridge?
You may feel doing your groceries in big batches every month saves you time and money; however, it’s possible that you aren’t able to consume the food fast enough. To reduce wastage and protect your health, it’s important to be mindful of how long you’re storing perishable goods, like vegetables and meat, in the fridge. Similarly, cooked foods like leftover meals shouldn’t be kept even in the best refrigerators for very long because bacteria can grow, even at refrigerator temperatures.
Read on to learn how long foods stay fresh in the refrigerator, so you don’t eat something you shouldn’t or toss things out before you should.
Meat: Whole chicken can be kept for one to two days, whilst beef and lamb, whether in chops, steak or roast form, can be kept for three to five days. Minced meat, whether chicken, beef, mutton or lamb, can also only be stored for one to two days. Hot dogs have a longer shelf-life with an unopened pack safely lasting two weeks, though they should be consumed within a week if opened.
Seafood: Most seafood’s shelf life is limited to a week. Both fatty and lean fish are recommended to be kept between four to six days. Crab, shrimp, scallops, crayfish and squid should be stored for a maximum of three days. Lobster has the shortest shelf life at only one to two days. Fresh clams, mussels, oysters, however, can be stored for longer, between five to 10 days.
Dairy: Milk should be consumed within a week of its opening, while butter lasts one to three months and margarine for six months. Cream cheese, butter and yogurt will last two weeks, though yogurt can sometimes expire more quickly. Yogurt-based foods and beverages like labneh and laban should also be consumed within a week. Soft cheese should be consumed within one to two weeks of its opening while hard cheese can be stored for three to four weeks. Cheese slices also last two weeks. Coffee creamer can be stored for three weeks.
Eggs: Eggs can be stored in refrigerators in their shell for three to five weeks. Raw eggs, out of their shells, can be stored for two to four days. Hard boiled eggs can be stored for a week.
Fruits: Apples have the longest shelf life of four to six weeks, while citrus fruits and whole melons can be consumed within two to three weeks. Cherries, grapes and pineapple can be stored for a week, while blueberries can last 10 days and blackberries, raspberries, strawberries up to six days. Peaches, nectarines, plums and pears can be stored for up to five days. Cut melon should be consumed within two to four days.
Vegetables: Carrots, capsicums and celery have the longest shelf-life of two weeks, while most other vegetables have to be consumed within a week. Mushrooms, eggplant, cucumber, rhubarb and greens can be stored for seven days, while it’s best to consume peas, green peas, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, squash and zucchini in a maximum of four to five days. Tomatoes are known to expire faster and should be consumed within three days. Tofu also has to be consumed quickly within two to three days of opening. Corn has the shortest shelf-life of one to two days.
Sauces and condiments: Olives and pickles perish rather quickly and should be consumed within two weeks. Mayonnaise can be kept for up to two months, while ketchup and chili sauce can be kept for six months. Jams and jellies can be kept for six months after opening. Salad dressings can be kept for one to three months. Mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce can be kept for up to a year. Double door refrigerators provide ample shelf space and will keep your condiments in your sight so they don’t go bad without you noticing.
Beverages: After opening, soda drinks should be consumed within two to three days of opening. Juices have a longer shelf life and can be stored for eight to 12 days. Beverages can be stored in the door shelves of side by side refrigerators to prevent wastage.
Leftovers: Cooked food should be eaten up within three to four days, after which it should be thrown out. The food may not look or smell like it has gone bad at this point, but there could be enough bacteria in the food to make you sick. Hard boiled eggs are the only cooked foods that are safe to eat for up to a week.
To help you remember how long something has been in the fridge, it’s helpful to label the date of its purchase or cooking to help you keep track! If you think you won’t eat the food in three to four days, put it in the freezer to eat at a later date. However, not all foods freeze well.
Also, it’s advisable to invest in refrigerators for large families if your household size is large. A crowded fridge is not able to keep produce, meat or dairy products fresh as long as usual as there is not enough room for air to circulate. American designs include fast-cooling refrigerators with stainless steel doors that are bacteria-resistant and chill your groceries faster.