The Shelf Life of Pantry Items

The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

grocery list

What is the Shelf Life of Your Pantry Items?

How long have these items been in your pantry? Print out this list and tape it inside your pantry door and mark the date that you purchased the item for future reference. You may want to move the older items to the front of the pantry!

The information is from the USDA website:

More with Less Today tip – after reading this article, I started to write the purchase date in permanent market on my items.

Types of Dates

  • “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
  • “Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
  • “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

Baking Powder (Unopened) -18 months (Opened) – 6 months – will not spoil but starts to lose it’s performance ability

Baking Soda (Unopened) – 2 Years (Opened) – 6 months – will not spoil but will lose potency over time.

Beans (Dry) –1 Year for best taste, although they will keep for many years after if stored in a tight container in a dry and cool setting.  Beans may be tougher to soften over time.

Beans (Canned) -2-5 Years

Bouillon– 2 Years  – will lose potency over time.

Brown Sugar – indefinitely

Canned Fruit – 12-18 months

Canned Meats ( Tuna, Chicken Salmon, etc) 2-5 years

Canned Soups – 2-5 Years

Cereal / Unopened -1 Year

Cocoa – 1 year

Corn Meal – 6-12 months

Cornstarch – indefinitely

Corn Syrup – indefinitely

Cream of Tartar – 2-3 years

Flour  (All Purpose)- 10-15 months or freeze for longer.

Flour (Self-rising) 6-8 months

Flour (Whole Wheat) – 1-2 months or 6 months in the freezer.  The bran oil will become rancid quickly at room temperature.

Hard Liquor – indefinitely, the flavor may change a little over time.

Honey  -indefinitely

Jam & Jelly – 2 years

Ketchup – 1 year

Mayonnaise/Unopened – 3-4 months AFTER date on bottle

Milk  (Evaporated) – 1 year

Milk (Powdered) – 1 year

Milk (Sweetened/Condensed) –  1 year

Molasses -2 Years +

Mustard – 2 years

Nuts- (Shelled) 4 months (Unshelled) 6 months

Oatmeal/Uncooked – 1 Year

Oil (Canola) – 2 years unopened, 1 year opened

Oil (Vegetable Spray) – two years

Olive Oil – 6 months

Pasta – 2 years

Peanut Butter  / Unopened – 3 months opened (Unopened) 6-9 months

Peanut Butter (Natural)- 6 Months (refrigerated)

Ramen Noodles – 10+ Years

Rice (Brown) – 6 months in the fridge or 1 year in the freezer.  The bran oil quickly becomes rancid at room temperature.

Rice (White) – indefinitely stored in a dry location and kept free from contaminants

Rice (Wild) – 6 months

Salad Dressing – 12-18 months

Salsa – 12 – 18 months

Salt – indefinitely

Shortening (Unopened) – 2 Years (Opened) – 1 Year

Soy Sauce – indefinitely if kept sealed and in a cool, dry place.

Spam -2-5 Years

Spices – spices dried commercially do not expire but do lose their potency over time.  Dates given are for quality purposes only.

Sugar (Granulated) – indefinitely

Sugar (Powdered)– indefinitely

Syrup (Artificial) 1 year  (Real) 1 year unopenend

Tabasco – 5 years

Tomato (Paste, Sauce, Crushed, Sun-dried, Whole) 12-18 months

Vanilla Extract (Imitation) – 1 Year

Vanilla Extract (Pure) – Indefinitely

Vanilla Beans – 3-4 Years

Vinegar (all kinds) best 2 Years – but safe indefinitely

White Rice – indefinitely stored in a dry location and kept free from contaminants

Whole Grains – 2-3 months or 1 year in the freezer.  The bran layer quickly becomes rancid at room temperature.

Worcester sauce – 1 year

 Yeast – follow expiration date on the package

 Any surprises here? Do you have some items past their “shelf life” in your pantry?






Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: