Advice From Mom: Mom Cleans Out the Refrigerator ...or... Safe Food Storage

by Rae Osenbaugh

Four years ago I made a decision: Thanksgiving would be here at my house....anyone in the family is welcome to come (it would be nice to let me know a few days ahead of time!), but I want to have it here. Now that the kids are moving away (remember our big wedding last June: Megan moved to Kentucky--that's a long way from Nebraska!), I'd like to have them all come home at least once a year!(sounds like a good time to do another family picture.

But, I'm getting away from my subject: cleaning out the refrigerator. If you are like me, you have a couple of Tupperware containers of "mystery food" tucked in the back corner of the 'fridge. How long has that been there? It's probably not edible any more: throw it out! After looking at my collection of old food and mystery containers I decided to look around for information on how long I can keep specific items in the refrigerator....and found this great list in Southern Living Cookbook---it was suggested by my friend, Natalie, on the Proverbs 31 e-mail discussion list. Here's to a clean and up-to-date refrigerator for all!

Safe Storage in the Refrigerator

Fruit 5-7 days
Jams and jellies 6 months
Mayonnaise 1-2 months
Meats 1-2 days
Pickles 2-3 months
Vegetables 2-3 days

Fresh beef, lamb, pork and veal
roasts 2-4 days
steaks and chops 3 days
ribs 2 days
Stew meat 2 days
Ground meat 1-2 days
Processed meats, after package is opened: Ham, whole and half 7 days
Bacon 5-7 days
Hotdogs 4-5 days
Lunch meat, sliced 3 days

FRESH FISH 1-2 days

POULTRY 1-2 days

Butter, margarine 1 month
Buttermilk 1-2 weeks
Cheese (opened)
hard: Cheddar,
Swiss 3-4 weeks
Parmesan, grated 1 year
Soft, cream and Neufchatel 2 weeks
Cottage cheese 5-7 days or package date Eggs 1 month
Half-and-half 7-10 days
Milk: Whole and skimmed 1 week
Sour cream 3-4 weeks
Whipping Cream 10 days

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Rae writes on a variety of issues pertaining to making a house a home. If you have a question or suggestion email Rae at

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