How long can you keep foods fresh in the fridge?

Many of us take use-by or best-before dates as a rough guide… it seems over-precautious on behalf of brands and most of us have eaten foods past their expiry date and found nothing wrong with them. But apart from the obvious visual signs that a food is past its best, how else can you know how long to keep your food in the fridge? This guide should help, so read on!

man checking fridge contents

First up: the basics

The best temperature for a fridge is 4 or 5 degrees centigrade – this should keep your food chilled without freezing it.

You should make sure your food is well wrapped, and always try to put raw meats on the bottom shelf so they can’t drip onto cooked meats or other fresh food – gross.

Never ever ever put hot food in the fridge, it’s a sure fire way to grow bacteria and give you a poorly tummy. Leave the food out (and covered) at room temperature to cool, then put it in the fridge when it’s no longer hot.


Dairy & eggs

Milk is good for 4-5 days in the fridge, although soy, almond milk etc. can last longer. Soft cheese like cottage or cream cheese lasts 2-3 days, whereas hard cheese such as cheddar is good for a whole week.

Eggs can also last for a week in the fridge. A good trick to know if your eggs are good to eat is fill a pint glass with water and gently drop the egg in – if it floats, it’s rotten and if it sinks to the bottom, crack on!


Salad & vegetables

If you have these ingredients in your fridge – congratulations! You may or may not eat them, but the intention is there to eat healthily. Salad leaves will usually last 2-3 days in the fridge before going limp. Salad is normally the first to be frozen if the fridge is too cold, so watch out for that.

Green vegetables are good for 3-4 days and if you haven’t eaten them by then, are you ever going to?! When you’re eating fresh food like this, it’s a really good idea to plan your meals in advance and only buy what you need to avoid wasting both food and money.

family in the kitchen cutting peppers


If you prefer your fruit to live in the fridge rather than in a bowl, soft fruit will only survive for 1-2 days. Hard fruits and fruits with stones will last anywhere between 3-7 days – keep an eye out for the beginnings of mould, bad smells or the fruit going soft.



Raw joints and poultry, as well as sliced meats only have a fridge-life of 2-3 days. Sausages are fine for 3 days in the fridge and bacon can last a 7 days (but if you can keep it that long without eating it, you have more willpower than me!). With meat, it’s better to be safe than sorry so if you aren’t sure, just throw it out. But if you stick to these timeframes, you shouldn’t have to chuck a thing!



Fish is another iffy (sometimes whiffy) one. It’s really best to keep it frozen until you know you’re definitely going to eat it. Fresh fish and shellfish can only last a day in the fridge before they start to turn.

Smoked salmon is a different kettle of fish (sorry) and can last for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.


Got any tips of your own? Leave them in the comments below!

If you’re heading on holiday, read our blog on how to keep your fridge fresh while you’re away.