Food Storage Guidelines

The history of food storage and preservation dates back to ancient civilizations, when people used methods such as drying, salting, and fermentation to preserve food for long periods of time. In more recent history, advances in food storage technology have allowed for the development of refrigeration, freezing, and canning, which have made it easier to store and preserve food for longer periods of time.

Proper food storage is important for both food safety and nutrition. Storing food at the proper temperature and in the correct container can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and other pathogens, which can cause foodborne illness. Proper food storage can also help preserve the quality and nutrients of the food, ensuring that it is safe and nutritious to eat.

There are a number of guidelines to follow when it comes to food storage:

  • Store perishable food in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below.
  • Store frozen food in the freezer at a temperature of 0°F (-18°C) or below.
  • Use airtight containers to store food, as this can help prevent contamination and extend the shelf life of the food.
  • Label and date food when you store it, so you know when it should be used.
  • Follow the “first in, first out” principle when storing food, which means using the oldest items first to prevent waste.

If shopping for your groceries, at times, is not stressful enough, think about all the food you throw away weekly. Putting away your refrigerated or freezer meats to maximize their freshness may come in close second. So why not learn about some cold food storage guidelines for meats, to optimally keep your perishables fresh and more importantly safe to enjoy. Such as what foods can and should not be frozen plus the maximum duration to store your food safely. Some of these food storage tips might even surprise you.

Food ItemRefrigerator (40°F)Freezer (0°F)
Eggs Fresh, in shell3 WeeksNot Recommended
Raw yolks, whites2-4 Days1 year
Hardcooked eggs1 WeekNot Recommended
Liquid pasteurized eggs or egg substitute — opened3 DaysNot Recommended
Liquid pasteurized eggs or egg substitute — unopened10 Days1 year
Commercial, refrigerate after opening2 MonthsNot Recommended
Store-made or homemade egg, chicken, tuna, ham, macaroni salads3-5 DaysNot Recommended
Pre-stuffed pork & lamb chops, chicken breasts stuffed with dressing1 DayNot Recommended
Store-cooked convenience meals1-2 DaysNot Recommended
Commercial brand vacuum-packed dinners with USDA seal2 Weeks, unopenedNot Recommended
Vegetable or meat-added3-4 Days2-3 Months
Hotdogs — opened package1 Week1-2 months
Hotdogs — unopened package2 Weeks1-2 months
Lunch meats — opened3-5 Days1-2 months
Lunch meats — unopened2 Weeks1-2 months
Bacon7 Days1 Month
Sausage, raw from pork, beef, turkey1-2 Days1-2 Months
Smoked breakfast links, patties7 Days1-2 Months
Hard sausage — pepperoni, jerky sticks2-3 Weeks1-2 Months
Ham, fully cooked — whole7 Days1-2 Months
Ham, fully cooked — half3-5 Days1-2 Months
Ham, fully cooked — slices3-4 Days1-2 Months
Hamburger and stew meats1-2 Days3-4 Months
Ground veal, pork, lamb and mixtures of them1-2 Days3-4 Months
Steaks, beef3-5 Days6-12 Months
Chops, pork3-5 Days4-6 Months
Chops, lamb3-5 Days6-9 Months
Roasts, beef3-5 Days6-12 Months
Roasts, lamb3-5 Days6-9 Months
Roasts, pork and veal3-5 Days4-6 Months
Cooked meat and meat dishes3-4 Days2-3 Months
Gravy and meat broth1-2 Days2-3 Months
Chicken or turkey, whole1-2 Days1 Year
Chicken or turkey pieces1-2 Days9 Months
Ground turkey1-2 Days3-4 Months
Fried chicken3-4 Days4 Months
Cooked poultry dishes3-4 Days4-6 Months