To properly store food in the refrigerator and freezer, adhere to the tips listed below. The limited time frames for home-refrigerated foods will prevent them from going bad or becoming unsafe to consume. The guidelines for freezer storage are only for quality; continuously frozen foods kept at 0 °F or lower can be kept for an endless amount of time.
Visit FoodKeeper to find storage advice for over 650 foods and beverages if you’re looking for a specific item.
What happens if I don’t have time to cook meat right away?
Placing your raw meat or poultry into the freezer will halt the growth of bacteria. It is very important to make sure that your freezer temperature is set to 0 degrees F or lower using a trusted calibrated appliance thermometer.
Always label and date your food products!
One of the easiest ways to prevent guessing as to what a product is, or when it was purchased or opened is to simply label and date the product at the time it goes into the refrigerator or freezer or whenever you open the package. You can accomplish this simply by using moisture proof food labels and a temperature resistant permanent marker.
How long can I keep raw meat in the fridge before having to cook or freeze it?
Different types of raw meat have varying different shelf life lengths in the refrigerator before cooking or freezing. This data has been sourced from a United States FoodSafety.gov report.
How long can raw ground meat keep safely in the refrigerator?
- For raw ground meat, including ground pork, beef, hamburger, lamb, veal, and venison, as well as ground poultry, including ground chicken, ground turkey, etc. Cook or freeze them within 1 to 2 days. For a maximum of three to four months, you can safely store ground meat or ground poultry in the freezer.
How long can steak, roast, chops, or larger cuts of meat safely keep in the refrigerator?
After bringing larger cuts of meat home, you can safely keep them in the fridge for 3 to 5 days before cooking or freezing. Steaks, roasts, chops, and other larger meat cuts can be safely kept in the freezer for 4 to 12 months.
How long can I safely keep raw chicken or turkey in the fridge?
Refrigerator storage for raw poultry, including chicken, turkey, game hens, ducks, and others, is safe for 1-2 days. Whole poultry can be frozen for up to a year, but cut-up or pieces can be kept in the freezer for up to nine months.
What if the meat was previously frozen and then thawed?
When meat or poultry has been previously frozen and then thawed, the window of opportunity starts once the food has reached its full thawing point. For instance, if you have a whole frozen chicken or turkey, you must cook it within 1-2 days at the most before discarding it.
How long can I store ham in the refrigerator?
For up to 3 to 5 days in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer, fresh, uncured, unsmoked ham can be kept.
How long can I safely keep uncooked bacon in the refrigerator?
The fridge is a safe place to keep raw, uncooked bacon for up to a week. For up to a month, raw bacon can be kept in the freezer without risk.
How long can I safely keep sausage in the refrigerator?
Sausage made from turkey, chicken, beef, or pork that is raw and uncooked can be safely kept for a few days in the refrigerator. For one to two months, raw sausage can be safely kept in the freezer.
Always trust your nose! When in doubt, throw it out!
When you bring home raw meat from the store, there are times when you open the package only to discover something that smells a little off. Never eat or prepare any meat product that doesn’t smell right. If the meat you’ve just bought smells off, rancid, or putrid in any way, take it back to the store right away for a full refund or replacement.
If the meat you’ve just taken out of the freezer smells strange either right away from the freezer or right after you’ve thawed it, it probably has a bacterial infection and could make you very ill. Immediately throw the meat into the trash. A few dollars saved are never worth a foodborne illness, so don’t cook it or feed it to your pets!
Always label and date your food products, store them at appropriate safe temperatures using reliable calibrated thermometers, trust your nose, and, when in doubt, throw it out.
Check out our other recipes, tips & tricks for Easy, Effortless Entertaining from AWG Private Chefs!
About the Author: Certified Master Chef, Sommelier & Wine Educator, Sean Andrade is the executive chef/owner of AWG Private Chefs, voted best personal chefs and best caterers in San Francisco, and #1 Private Chef company in California. For more than 25 years, Chef Sean has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industries all over the world. AWG Private Chefs provides private event catering and highly customized, bespoke private chef dining experiences in more than 30 nations worldwide.
How long should you keep meat in the fridge or freezer?
How many days can raw beef be kept in the refrigerator?
Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and porkSteaks3 to 5 daysChops3 to 5 daysRoasts3 to 5 daysHamFresh, uncured, uncooked3 to 5 daysCold food storage chartFoodTypeRefrigerator (40 °F or below)
Is beef good after 7 days?
The USDA suggests using cooked beef within 3 to 4 days while keeping it chilled (at 40°F or less). Refrigeration slows but does not stop bacterial growth. USDA recommends using cooked leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
How long can meat stay in refrigerator after thawing?
Foods that are thawing in the fridge (at 40 °F or less) are still safe to eat. Use ground meats, poultry, and fish within one or two more days of thawing, and roasts, steaks, or chops of beef, pork, lamb, or veal within three to five days.
Can you eat cooked meat after 7 days?
In the refrigerator, leftovers can be stored for three to four days. After that, the risk of food poisoning goes up. Freeze leftovers right away if you don’t think you’ll be able to consume them within four days. Frozen leftovers will stay safe for a long time.