As April Fool’s Day comes to a close, I want to encourage us all to avoid being fools when it comes to food safety. Earlier this afternoon I ran across an article sharing information on how long certain items stay safe in the fridge and freezer. I found this information of particular interest not only from my food safety courses in undergrad but especially from my childhood memories of feeling like my household left certain cooked food items out for extended periods of time at room temperature- especially during parties. However, if you’re good on getting raw and cooked food items in the freezer, fridge, or pantry on time, check out this information written by Jessica Girwain at Men’s Health.
1. Frozen Chicken: If you end up getting a great deal on bulk raw chicken but don’t have immediate plans to use it, store it in a freezer bag and keep it in a single layer so that it freezes quickly while also removing as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn. Try to use it within a month or two— it can technically be kept in your freezer for up to 6 months but the longer it’s frozen, the more its taste and texture degrades.
2. Raw Chicken: If you’ve just bought raw chicken and you’re fairly sure you’ll use it soon, it generally keeps 1 to 2 days in the fridge but follow the expiration date listed on the package —don’t push it.
3. Deli Meat: Be careful with this one! You only have about 3 days to eat it — technically you can keep deli meat for up to a week but that’s the max as some meats start to get slimy from growing bacteria.
4. Leftovers: A week is still safe, though at that time, ingredients may start to separate. (Taste and quality decline with each passing day.) Ideally, you want to eat them within 2 to 4 days. And make sure your fridge is set 35 to 36 degrees, since warmer temps encourage spoilage.
5. Frozen Bread/Bagels: You can store them for a few months in the freezer, but here’s the thing: Bread may dry out and accumulate freezer odors in about 2 to 3 weeks, which will sacrifice taste. So eat within weeks, not months.
6. Coffee: Grounds pick up moisture easily, making them a magnet for sucking up odors and flavors of other foods, whether stored in the fridge or freezer. For that reason, buy a week or two’s supply of coffee (versus a whole giant can) at a time and store in an airtight container in a cool dark place. Whole beans last 1 to 3 weeks in your pantry.
7. Chicken or Beef Broth: That recipe called for a half-cup of broth, so now you’re stuck with the rest. If the broth was canned, pour it into another container, refrigerate, and use it up in a few days.
8. Eggs: You’ve got some wiggle room after the sell-by date by about 2 to 3 weeks. Five weeks is your max. The sell-by date is actually a guide for sellers for how long to keep the eggs on shelves, which is why eaters can ignore it. Store them in the container in the coldest part of the fridge–not the door where they’re subject to temperature fluctuations.
9. Canned Tomatoes: It’s best to use the entire can all at once. That said, canned tomatoes can stick around in your fridge for a few days. Just don’t store them in the can after opening them–transfer them to another airtight container.
10. Snack Foods (Chips, Cookies): Fats in these foods begin to oxidize after opening the package, which means their flavor and texture start to go south. When they hit their expiration date–or a month after opening (whichever comes first)–throw the bag away. As long as they’re not moldy, stale Oreos and Cheetos don’t pose a health risk, but they certainly won’t taste good.
Soooo……what do you guys think? Do you agree with above information or have any horror stories to share? I can say by looking at the list that my husband and I have been guilty of breaking many of the rules listed above. There have been times when we’ve wanted to take advantage of great deals on raw chicken at places like Sams Club and Costco but the meat ends up accumulating freezer burn over a length of time. This can also be tricky when you have canned ingredients or other items that you need in minute amounts only to be left with quickly perishable items that you no longer have use for. If you’ve found yourself in this same boat whether you’re single, married, or have a large family, I invite you to use the awesome menu planner at How Does She Do It that allows you to customize the amount of people you cook for and create weekly menus that consolidate your shopping list and use the same ingredients for various dishes in one week! 🙂
For all my family captains, parents, foodies, and dietitians, what would you consider to be your tricks of the trade or combination of dishes you cook throughout the week that utilize similar ingredients but have enough variety? I would love to hear from you!
***P.S. If you’re interested in great tips on food safety including appropriate cooking temperatures, food handling, storage, as well as keeping food safe for little ones and the elderly, please check out FightBac.Org