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Buying Food in Bulk - How Long Will It Last?

How Long Will Stored Food Items Last?


Many smart shoppers like stocking up on food items in order to save money on their grocery bills, but before filling up the cupboards (and every other possible space) with bulk items, you may want to review the average shelf life of the most common foods we buy.

Also, asking yourself a few questions before buying large portions of food will help insure that what you are purchasing will not go to waste.

    1) Will you have adequate storage space to put everything you are buying?

    2) Do you have a freezer large enough to store bulk food items?

    3) How much will your family enjoy the products you are buying?

Recipe planning is a good strategy to use when buying food in bulk. By knowing what you have, how much you have and when you plan on cooking it will help deter the problem of food going bad before you have a chance to eat it.

How Long Does Stored Food Last?

Meat and Poultry - Uncooked
  • Chicken and turkey - Nine months
  • Steaks, beef - Six to 12 months
  • Chops, pork - Four to six months
  • Chops, lamb - Six to nine months
  • Roasts, beef - Six to 12 months
  • Roasts, lamb - Six to nine months
  • Roasts, pork and veal - Four to six months
  • Stew Meats - Three to four months
  • Ground meats - Three to four months
  • Organ meats - Three to four months

Dairy Products

  • Butter/margarine - Six to nine months
  • Cheese, soft and spreads, dips - One month
  • Cheese, hard or semi-hard - Six months
  • Eggs in shell- Do not freeze
  • Ice cream - One month
  • Milk / Cream - Three weeks

Dried Food Items - Shelf Life

  • Baking powder/soda - 18 months
  • Bread Crumbs - Six months
  • Cereals - Six months
  • Coffee creamer, dry - Six months
  • Flour/cake mixes - One year
  • Gelatin/pudding mixes - One year
  • Herbs/spices - Six to 12 months
  • Milk, nonfat dry - Six months
  • Pancake/pie crust mixes - Six months
  • Pasta/noodles - Two years
  • Potatoes, instant - 18 months
  • Rice, white - Two years
  • Sugar, granulated - Two years
  • Sugar, brown, confectioners'- Four months
Fruits & Vegetables

Commercially frozen fruits will last up to a year in your freezer. Commercially frozen vegetables have a life-span of only eight months. Another option for storing these items for long periods is canning them. If you plan to buy these items in bulk, on a regular basis, it would be a good investment to consider purchasing a canning machine to insure the food is kept air-tight.


Dried beans kept free from moisture can last for several years. This is an excellent way to stretch your money, plus beans are full of protein for healthy eating.


Most juices that you buy, such as apple juice, can last 3-5 years un-opened. If you are unsure of how long your juice will last, contact the manufacturer consumer phone number.

Optional Items

  • Chocolate - unsweetened 18 months
  • Coffee, vacuum pack - One year
  • Milk, canned - One year
  • Molasses - Two years
  • Nuts - Eight months
  • Oils/salad dressings - Three months
  • Peanut butter (unopened) - Six months
  • Sauces, condiments, relishes (unopened) - One year
  • Shortening - Eight months
  • Syrups - One year
  • Tea - 18 months

The important thing to remember when buying in bulk, is that a deal is only a good deal if you actually use the products that you purchase.

How To Save Money On Anything You Buy

Saving on the Family Food Budget

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