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Buying Food in Bulk - How Long Will It Last?

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by , 10-31-2009 at 02:10 PM (8124 Views)
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.

-Author: M. Donataldo

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