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Do You Know Which Food Products Last Forever And Which Don't?

Can you still eat last week's pizza today? Check out this guide to food spoilage.

The food products we buy are marked with "best before," "expires on," and "sell by" and then the date. We've pressured ourselves or someone else to finish the food before it expires, or worried about having eaten something that has gone past the best before or the expiration date.

But the expiration dates we see on the packaging refer to the quality of the food, not the safety. (The phrase "use by" is the only one that refers to safe consumption.)

Below is a list of food products we usually consume and how long they'll last before they spoil, assuming you stored them properly. Nevertheless, trust your senses: To know if food is no longer safe to eat, always check for molds and strange smells.

Leftovers

How Long Does Food Last

Pizza. Three to four days

Salad with dressing. Three to five days.

Sandwiches. One to two days.

Spaghetti with meatballs. One to two days.

Grains

How Long Does Food Last

Bread

Stored in the pantry: Two to three days past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Six months past the printed date.

Cereal

Stored in the pantry: If unopened, six to eight months past the printed date. If opened, four to six months.

Oatmeal (unopened or resealed)

Stored in the pantry: Six to nine months past the printed date.

Oatmeal (prepared)

Stored in the fridge: Five to seven days.

Oatmeal cookies

Stored in the pantry: Two to three days.

Stored in the freezer: Four to five months.

Pasta

Stored in the pantry: Dry pasta lasts one to two years past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: Cooked pasta lasts seven days.

Stored in the freezer: Cooked pasta lasts six to eight months.

Proteins

How Long Does Food Last

Bacon (uncooked)

Stored in the fridge: One to two weeks past the printed date. If opened, one week.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months past the printed date. If opened, six months.

Bacon (cooked)

Stored in the fridge: One week.

Stored in the freezer: Six months.

Beef (uncooked)

Stored in the fridge: One to two days past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months past the printed date.

Beef (cooked)

Stored in the fridge: Seven days.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months.

Corned Beef (uncooked)

Stored in the fridge: One to two weeks past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months past the printed date.

Corned Beef (cooked)

Stored in the fridge: Seven to 10 days.

Continue reading below ↓

Chicken (cooked)

Stored in the fridge: Seven days 

Stored in the freezer: One year. (Six to eight months if roasted.)

Chicken broth

Stored in the pantry: If unopened, one year past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: If opened, four to five days past the printed date.

Fish

Stored in the fridge: If uncooked, one to two days. If cooked, five to six days past the printed date. 

Stored in the freezer: Six to nine months past the printed date.

Ham (unopened)

Stored in the fridge: One to two weeks past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months after the printed date.

Ham (cooked)

Stored in the fridge: Seven to 10 days.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months.

Cashews, macadamias, peanuts

Stored in the pantry: Six to nine months past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: One year past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Two years past the printed date.

Almond nuts

Stored in the pantry: Nine to 12 months past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: One year past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Two years past the printed date.

Pistachios

Stored in the pantry: Three months past the printed date.

Walnuts

Stored in the pantry: Six months past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: One year past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: One to two years past the printed date.

Smooth or crunchy peanut butter (unopened)

Stored in the pantry: One year past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: One year past the printed date.

Smooth or crunchy peanut butter (opened)

Stored in the pantry: Three to four months past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: Six to eight months past the printed date.

Pork (uncooked)

Stored in the fridge: One to two days.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months.

Pork (cooked)

Stored in the fridge: Seven days.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months.

Sushi and sashimi

Stored in the fridge: 24 hours after preparation.

Dairy

How Long Does Food Last

Butter (unopened)

Stored in the fridge: One month past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Six to nine months past the printed date.

Butter (opened)

Stored in the fridge: Two weeks past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Six to nine months past the printed date.

Hard cheese like Parmesan (unopened)

Stored in the fridge: If whole, two to four months past the printed date. If shredded, one to two months past the printed date.

Continue reading below ↓

Stored in the freezer: If whole or shredded, six to eight months past the printed date.

Hard cheese like Parmesan (opened)

Stored in the fridge: If whole, three to six weeks past the printed date. If shredded, three to four weeks past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: If whole or shredded, six to eight months past the printed date.

Soft cheese like Feta and Brie cheese

Stored in the fridge: One week past the printed date.

Condensed milk

Stored in the pantry: If unopened, one year past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: If opened, two to three weeks past the printed date.

Cottage cheese and Ricotta cheese (unopened)

Stored in the fridge: Seven to 10 days past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Three months past the printed date.

Cottage cheese and Ricotta cheese (opened)

Stored in the fridge: Five to seven days past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Two to three months past the printed date.

Cream cheese

Stored in the fridge: Three to four weeks past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Two months (if foil-wrapped) past the printed date.

Eggs

Stored in the fridge: Three to four weeks past the "sell by" date.

Egg whites

Stored in the fridge: Two to four days past the "sell by" date.

Egg yolks

Stored in the fridge: One to two days past the "sell by" date.

Milk

Stored in the fridge: Seven to 10 days past the printed date.

Yogurt (with fruit)

Stored in the fridge: Two to three weeks past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: One to two months past the printed date.

Greek yogurt

Stored in the fridge: One to two weeks past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: One to two months past the printed date.

Yogurt (with fruit)

Stored in the fridge: Seven to 10 days past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: One to two months past the printed date.

Sweets

How Long Does Food Last

Cheesecake

Stored in the fridge: Five to six days past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months past the printed date.

Chocolate

Stored in the pantry: Two to four months past the printed date.

Stored in the fridge: Four to six months past the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Six to eight months past the printed date.

You'll know when chocolate has gone bad when you see little white dots on the edges of the chocolate.

Continue reading below ↓

Packaged cookies (unopened)

Stored in the pantry: One to two months after the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Four to five months after the printed date.

Packaged soft cookies (opened)

Stored in the pantry: Seven to 10 days after the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Four to five months after the printed date.

Packaged hard cookies (opened)

Stored in the pantry: Two to three weeks after the printed date.

Stored in the freezer: Four to five months after the printed date.

Soft homemade cookies

Stored in the pantry: Two to three days.

Stored in the freezer: Four to five months.

Hard homemade cookies

Stored in the pantry: Two to three weeks.

Stored in the freezer: Four to five months.

Cupcakes (with fresh fruit or cream cheese)

Stored in the pantry: One to two days

Stored in the fridge: Two to four days

Stored in the freezer: Two to four months

8 Food Products That Will Last Forever

How Long Does Food Last

1. Pure honey

Keep it tightly covered in a glass jar and store in a cool, dry area. The cupboard or pantry will do.

2. Rice

White, wild, arborio, jasmine, and basmati rice all have an indefinite shelf life when kept free from contaminants.

Store in a cool, dry area. Once opened, place rice in a sealed airtight container or place original package in a resealable heavy-duty freezer bag. For added protection, store rice in the refrigerator or freezer.

3. Sugar

Granulated white sugar, white sugar cubes, and raw sugar don't spoil since they don't support bacterial growth. Brown sugar also lasts indefinitely, but it's best consumed within two years.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry area.

4. Hard liquor

Distilled spirits like vodka, rum, whiskey, gin, and tequila don't spoil even when their bottles have been opened. The taste and aroma may fade gradually, but it'll take ages before you notice. 

Store in cool, dark area, away from direct heat or sunlight. Keep bottle tightly closed when not in use.

5. Maple syrup

It lasts forever when you store it in an airtight plastic container in the freezer.

6. Pure vanilla extract

Keep tightly closed and store in a cool, dark cupboard.

7. Cornstarch

It'll last indefinitely if you keep it dry and free from contaminants.

Keep tightly packed and store in a cool, dry area.

8. Salt

Store in a cool, dry area.

Continue reading below ↓

Sources: Time, Lifehacker, Eat by Date, Web MD

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