The Shelf Life of Refrigerated Foods

Learn how long foods will keep in the fridge

Child reading back of jar
•••   Peter Dazeley/Getty Images 

You probably know that butter will last one to three months when you store it in the refrigerator, while you need to use up refrigerated buttermilk in two weeks. But do you know how long fish and shellfish last in the fridge? How about ground meats, coffee cream, or egg substitutes?

Know Expiration Dates

It's important to know the expected expiration date of various foods you might have stored in your fridge.

Without this knowledge, you might end up throwing out perfectly good refrigerated food or failing to use foods before they go bad. Read on to learn how long foods stay fresh in the fridge, so you don't eat something you shouldn't or toss things out before you should. The following chart lists the shelf life of everything from ketchup to leftovers.

The first column lists the food, followed by the shelf life in the second column, and links to related articles—where available—to give you more information on these foods in the third column. It's worth taking the time to click the links because the articles explain how to freeze large portions of food (such as a  ham), safely use up other foods before they expire (such as sour cream), and tell if foods are still good (such as eggs). 

The Shelf Life of Refrigerated Foods

FoodShelf LifeResources
Meat and Seafood  
Bacon7 days 
Chicken or turkey1-2 days 
Chops (pork, veal, lamb)3-5 days 
Fish and shellfish1-2 days uncooked, 3-5 days cooked 
Ground meats1-2 days 
Ham, canned6-9 months unopened, 3-5 days opened 
Ham, fully cooked, half3-5 daysHow to Refreeze Ham
Ham, fully cooked, slices3-4 days 
Ham, fully cooked, whole7 days 
Hot dogs2 weeks unopened, 1 week opened 
Lunch Meat2 weeks unopened, 3-5 days opened 
Organ meats1-2 days 
Roast3-5 days 
Sausage, hard (ex: pepperoni)2-3 weeks 
Sausage, smoked7 days 
Sausage, summer3 months unopened, 3 weeks opened 
Sausage, uncooked1-2 days 
Steak3-5 days 
Dairy  
Butter1-3 months 
Buttermilk2 weeksUse Up Buttermilk
Cheese, hard6 months unopened, 3-4 weeks opened 
Cheese, processed slices1-2 months 
Cheese, soft1 week 
Coffee cream10 days 
Egg Substitute10 days unopened, 3 days opened 
Eggs3-5 weeks in the shell, 2-4 days out of shellHow to Tell If Eggs are Still Good
Heavy cream10 daysUse Up Heavy Cream
Milk1 week 
Sour cream1-3 weeksUse Up Sour Cream
Whipped cream (can)3 months 
Yogurt1-2 weeks 
Condiments  
Chili sauce6 months 
Chutney1-2 months 
Cocktail sauce6 months 
Horseradish3-4 months 
Jams, Jellies6 months after opening 
Ketchup6 months 
Mayonnaise2 months 
MustardI year 
Olives2 weeks 
Pickles2 weeks 
Salad dressing2 months 
Leftovers  
Meat or poultry3-4 days 
Broth2 days 
Casseroles3-4 days 
Egg dishes3-4 days 
Fish3-4 days 
Gravy3-4 days 
Hard-boiled eggs1 week 
Milk, condensed4-5 daysUses Up Sweetened Condensed Milk
Milk, evaporated4-5 daysUse Up Evaporated Milk
Pasta1-2 days 
Pizza3-4 days 
Salads (egg, chicken, macaroni, etc.3-5 days 
Soups and stews3-4 days 
Spaghetti sauce4 days 
Drinks  
Coffee, can or bag2 weeks 
Lemonade6 days 
Orange juice6 days 
Soda2-3 days 
Other  
Flour, whole wheat6-8 monthsHow to Store Flour
Rolls, yeast1 weekHow to Freeze Bread
  ©Erin Huffstetler

Sources: USDA, Food Marketing Institute

Other Resources

Of course, you don't store all your foods in the fridge. Learn about the shelf life of pantry foods and the shelf life of frozen foods. Once you learn how long foods stored the fridge, freezer, and pantry will last, you'll be in good shape to save money by consuming or preserving foods before they expire—rather than having to throw them out.