Can you remember how long you've had that ketchup or mustard in your fridge? Didn't think so. It's probably way past due to toss! To keep your fridge and pantry fresh, use my easy guide to spring clean your fridge. It'll help you know what you need to toss, what you can keep and what you can stock up on.
Condiments: That date on the side of the jar tells you how long the product will stay good if it remains unopened. Once you open it; however, it's a different story. Most unopened condiments like mayo, mustard, ketchup, and salad dressing stay fresh for six months or more. Once opened, you should toss them after three months to prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Now that you know that, you should rethink that jumbo bottle of dressing next time you're at the grocery store!
- Found some yogurt in the back of your fridge and wondering if it's still safe to eat? Don't just rely on smelling it or looking for mold to decide. For single serving containers that are unopened, check the date on the container. For larger, previously opened containers of yogurt and sour cream, you should usually toss them after being opened for two weeks.
- Milk may last about a week after the sell-by date.
- For cheese, it depends on the type, but most cheeses on average will last about two months unopened in the fridge or three weeks on average if it has been opened.
- Butter should only be stored in the fridge for three months, but don't feel pressured to use it all now -- you can store unopened sticks of butter in the freezer for up to a year.
Of course, if anything ever tastes, smells or looks suspicious, go ahead and toss it. It's better to be safe than sorry! Proteins:
- Eggs actually stay fresh past the best-by date if they are kept in the fridge at 40 degrees F. The date actually indicates when they will change grades, which has more to do with the shape of the yolk than it does with spoilage (a grade A yolk stands up from the white; a grade B yolk is flatter, more flush with the white). In general, eggs will keep two to five weeks after you buy them.
- Lunch meat should generally be used four to five days after opening. Raw meats like chicken breasts, ground meat or pork should be used or frozen within a week of purchase.
- Fish should be used or frozen within two days of purchase. All of the above should be kept refrigerated or frozen at all times.
Leftovers: Leftovers make great lunches and easy dinners for busy nights, but if you have leftovers from Monday's dinner can you eat them on Friday night? In most cases, yes. Leftover dishes stored in an airtight container in the fridge can last four to five days.
And now that you've cleaned out your fridge, here are two great things to stock up on:
Frozen fruit: As the weather gets warmer, you will probably be craving something cold and sweet. Frozen fruit like berries will keep for about a year in the freezer, so it's perfect to stock up on now so that all summer long, you will have easy access to delicious fruit to throw into a smoothie, use as a topping for yogurt or eat as-is for a snack.
Nuts: By now you know that nuts are a superfood, so including them in your daily diet is a great thing. Buying a large bag will allow you to do that at a good price. However, if you've been shying away for buying nuts in bulk because you're afraid they won't keep, you'll be glad to know that storing nuts in the refrigerator will extend their shelf life from three months in your pantry to six months in your fridge. Put them in the freezer, and they'll last even longer -- up to two years!