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    Here's How Long Different Foods Last

    From guac to corned beef to ketchup, we've got you covered.

    With everyone practicing social distancing and staying home, many of us are cooking more while also taking less frequent trips to the grocery store. When you open up your fridge, you might find yourself thinking, "What should I eat first before it perishes?" or "If I make a large batch of soup, will it still be good to eat in a couple of days?"

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    If you've cried over a rotten avocado, you're not alone.

    While most of us know from experience that milk lasts about a week in the fridge, we might be unsure of how long a pack of deli meats stays fresh after it's opened or whether dried kidney beans expire at all (and a taste test is really not a safe way to find out). Luckily, there are many resources online to help us meal-plan effectively during this difficult time.

    TV Land

    Waste less food and make more delicious meals? Sounds like a win-win situation!

    For a quick guide, you can refer to this chart to see how long your favorite foods will keep in the cabinet, fridge, or freezer:

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    Didn't find the item you're looking for? No worries. This document compiled by the National Center for Home Food Preservation covers many more food categories, such as baked goods, vegetables, and condiments.

    Fresh produce is usually the most perishable, but this cheat sheet will help you figure out what to cook first:

    Sustainable America

    Download the full cheat sheet from Sustainable America and hang it on your fridge as a reminder.

    For households that consume a lot of meat products, this handy storage chart by the FDA gives an easy overview of how long certain foods (like raw hamburger patties and leftover stew) will last:


    Although we may assume foods last forever in the freezer, it's actually not the case! Food still deteriorates in quality while frozen, just much more slowly.

    FYI, how long food lasts is also dependent on proper storage and handling.

    The Container Store

    Immediately refrigerate or freeze cold foods after returning from the grocery store and never leave potentially hazardous foods — like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cut fruits and vegetables, cooked foods, and dairy foods — at room temperature for more than two hours.

    Cupboards or pantries should be clean, cool (between around 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit), and dry; refrigerators should be set at 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit so that foods stay at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit; and freezers should be set to keep foods at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Storing dry goods in airtight containers (away from sunlight) is also a great way to help them stay fresh.

    Also, if you're confused by expiration dates and what they mean, here's a quick explainer:


    "Sell by" means the store should sell the product by the printed date; you can still eat the product safely after that date.

    "Best if used by" means you should use the product by the date listed for best quality and flavor (not for safety reasons).

    "Use by" is the last date recommended for use at peak quality. After that, there will be a noticeable deterioration in flavor, appearance, and texture.

    With the exception of infant formula, if the date passes during home storage, it should still be safe to consume the product if it's handled properly until the time spoilage is evident.

    Another great resource to have on hand is the FoodKeeper app offered by the US Department of Agriculture. When in doubt, you can always pull it up to check how much time you have to finish something in your fridge or pantry.


    You can download it for iPhones or Androids, but it's also available for desktops.

    The website also provides a bunch of helpful tips on how to store food and beverages properly for maximum freshness and quality.

    Hopefully all this new info will help you waste less food and use up all your ingredients at their peak freshness!

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