Can I eat food that has been in the fridge for a week? When storing food or leftovers in the fridge, one of the main problems most of us face is not knowing exactly how long it’s going to last.
Nobody likes to waste food, but food safety is also of the utmost importance.
One of the key things we can do to ensure that our food is safe to eat is make sure we are familiar with the shelf life of food in the refrigerator.
We’ve put together a list of the most popular refrigerated foods and explained how long each last in order to be edible.
How long can you keep food in the fridge?
Generally speaking a carton of opened milk will safely last in the fridge for up to a week. Make sure the carton lid is securely fasted to avoid faster spoilage.
If the milk the smells odd when pouring it, it is not safe to use regardless of how long it has been in the fridge. Lactose free milk can last longer, usually up to 10 days.
one opened cheese can stay in the fridge for about six weeks. To get the most out of your cheese, make sure it is properly covered and stored. Certain cheeses will last longer.
despite the best before on the package, fresh eggs can last in the fridge for three to five weeks. They can last longer, however the older they get, the more the quality declines. Boiled eggs can last for one week in the fridge.
Top tip: get a pen or marker and write the date you boiled the egg on the egg shell outside. This won’t spoil the egg and it’ll prevent you from getting a nasty surprise.
Butter will last in the fridge for six to nine months. Storing your butter correctly is the key to it’s long life. Make sure it is properly wrapped up and there are no “bits” such as breadcrumbs stuck in it.
Pre-made salads such as tuna salad, chicken salad or pasta salads can last three to four days. Ensure your salad is stored in an air tight container to stop any bacteria from growing and, as usual, if anything smells off when opening- do not consume. It’s generally a good idea to finish off leftovers like these the next day, due to the wide variety of ingredients.
Cooked ham lasts three to four days in the fridge. It is extremely important to wrap and store your ham correctly so that no air can get to it.
An opened packet of bacon will last for a week in the fridge if stored properly. Like ham, bacon needs to be in a sealed container with minimal air. It can also be stored for up to six months in the freezer, if you don’t think you’ll finish it in time.
Raw chicken should only be refrigerated for a maximum of two days according to US safety regulations. When storing chicken (or any raw meat) you should keep it on the bottom shelf of the fridge in order to prevent any juices dripping down. Cooked chicken will last a little longer and can stay in your fridge for about four days.
Top tip: washing raw chicken- necessary or not? Actually, washing your chicken before cooking it to remove bacteria is not necessary as bacteria will die when you are cooking the chicken. You are more likely to unknowingly spread nasty bacteria across your kitchen sink which is more unhygeneic in the long run.
fresh bread can be stored in the fridge for one week. Eating bread that has been in the fridge longer is not especially harmful, but it will probably taste kind of gross.
It’s easy to spot mould on bread, so if it’s coming close to the deadline cast your eye over it first!
Always wait for your bananas to fully ripen before putting them in the fridge. Storing your bananas in the refrigerator can lengthen their shelf life by five to seven days.
Top tip: brown bananas are still edible, even when they may not look it. If the colour is too off putting, try using them for cooking instead! Brown bananas are perfect for banana bread.
Ripe tomatoes will last for five to seven days in the fridge. Tomatoes should be removed from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to eating or cooking with for the best possible taste.
Many chefs will advise against storing tomatoes in the fridge at all, so if you know you’re going to eat them within a couple of days, it is probably better to leave them outside the fridge.
If stored correctly, and that means in an air tight container not a cardboard pizza box, leftover pizza can last for up to four days in the fridge.
This is one of the foods you should probably consume the next day as the longer it stays in the fridge, the more the quality declines.
This is a tricky one, and you should be mindful of what your sweet treat contains. Cakes or pastries with large amounts of cream or dairy will last about three days however cakes with fresh fruit or similar should really only be stored for two days at the most. This is one where you can use a bit of common sense and personal judgement, everyone hates throwing away cake.
Green leaf salad
Loose leaf salad can last up to ten days in the fridge. It needs to be stored in an air tight container and any stray wilting leaves need to be removed. A whole head of lettuce that has not been washed or chopped can actually last up to three weeks. Ready made bagged salad should be eaten within a few days and will tend to go bad from the bottom of the bag up.
Whole bell peppers can last two weeks in the fridge. Once cut, peppers should be consumed within two to three days. Store your chopped peppers in a re-sealable freezer bag or Tupperware in order to preserve crunchiness.
Similarly to chicken, raw turkey should only be stored for two days. Once cooked it will last for up to four days. Always store correctly and always check the best before date.
Cold cut meat
All cold cut meats or deli meats can usually stored for seven days past their sell by date. Once opened, it’s generally wise to consume within five days and if the meat comes across as especially slimy then it’s time to throw it away.
Freshly prepared juice should be consumed within 24 hours. Juices coming from a cartoon or bottle can last for around one week. You can instantly taste juice that has gone off as it has a fizzy element to it.
Raw mushrooms will last for a week in the fridge. Storing mushrooms is slightly different to other vegetables as they thrive best and will last longer when stored in a paper bag. Please be especially careful with mushroom storage as they can make you very sick if you consume one that is off. It is wise to cook your mushrooms sooner rather than later, and once cooked, mushrooms can be stored in the fridge for up to five days.
Raw carrots that have not been washed or peeled can last four weeks in the fridge. To lengthen their shelf life and reduce the risk of spoilage, raw carrots should be stored in a plastic bag or container. If you’re purchased more carrots than you need right now (which is an easy thing to do), they can be stored for up to eight months in the freezer.
Top tip: if your carrots go soft after a few days, that is a sign you are not storing them properly. Make sure your storage is air tight to prevent this from happening.
Once opened, yoghurt usually lasts around one week in the fridge. It is still possible to consume yoghurt past the sell by date, but you should scan the yoghurt for signs of mould and throw away if so. The quality of the yoghurt will change over time, but it doesn’t mean it’s less safe.
We’ve all heard horror stories about the bacteria living in cooked rice and yes, this is another dish we need to be especially careful with. When stored in an air tight container cooked rice can last four to six days. Airborne bacteria absolutely love cooked rice, so when reheating rice from the fridge, please make sure you do it properly and to a minimum of 65 degrees.
We all know someone with tonnes of different open sauces and condiments stored in their fridge, but how long do these actually last? Well for starters, to ensure the maximum shelf live, make sure your lid is on correctly! Secondly, different sauces have different shelf lives. Here are some of the most common ones you’re likely to find in your fridge:
Six to nine months
- Hot sauce
nine to twelve months
- Jam or other sweetened preservatives
six to eighteen months
- Spaghetti sauce
eighteen months. If there is any sign of mould or it smells off, throw the whole jar away.
As I’m sure you know, avocados are a food that spoils quickly and easily. Generally speaking an unripe avocado can last about seven days in the fridge. Once ripe, that time frame drops to three to five days. If you dice up or mash an avocado, you can only really expect it to last twenty four hours. Usually, it will still be edible, however the quality severely declines and it won’t look particularly tasty.
Fresh whole onions can last around two months in the fridge. Generally considered a pantry staple, onions fare much better when refrigerated. Once chopped up, raw onions stay consumer able for about one week. These should be stored in a resalable plastic bag or plastic Tupperware. Onions tend to shrivel as they go bad, so it’s easy to spot when they’re past their best use date.
potatoes can last up to four months when stored in the fridge. Though please note, this is also dependant on the type of potato, sell by date and style of cooking.
As a general rule of thumb, once cooked, potatoes will last around a week. Dishes like mashed potato which has added dairy should only really be kept for two to three days.
Cooked beans will last about three to five days in the refrigerator and must be stored correctly in order to avoid unsafe bacteria. It is also important that when reheating, you cook your beans to a minimum of 40 degrees to make sure they’re definitely safe to eat.
One of the most commonly thrown away foods and largely considered to “go bad” within a few hours but in actual fact fresh herbs can last about two to three weeks in the fridge. If you care for them properly, they can last almost a month.
Top tip: look after your herbs and find the balance between light, moisture and temperature to keep them fresh and happy.
You can try to wrap them in a wet paper towel, this will help keep the herbs moist.
Unpeeled garlic cloves last ten days in the fridge. Once the cloves are peeled, the shelf life is reduced down to a week, and once chopped up and diced it is recommended to use and consume within three to five days.
Top tip: It’s easy to lose garlic in your fridge due to it’s small size so we suggest that you keep in a small bowl so that you’re not accidentally finding loose cloves months later.
Last but not least, peanut butter. Once opened, peanut butter can last about four weeks in the pantry.
This shelf life can be lengthen to three to four months by storing your peanut butter in the fridge.
If not stored correctly, you’ll be able to see as oil separation will occur. Make sure the lid is on properly so avoid this.
So, there you have it folks, 30 of the most commonly found foods in your fridge and how to correctly store them. This guide should be used as a general rule of thumb. Please pay close attention to sell by and best before dates. When in doubt, remember, if it smells and/or looks off, it should not be consumed.
Take extra care with meat and dairy products as these are the ones most likely to be harbouring bacteria. We recommend investing in some high quality plastic containers and structuring your fridge correctly in order to get the most out of your food. If you have raw foods close to their expiration date, turn them in to something tasty!