Reviewed by Leslie Bertsch
Field Specialist in Nutrition and Health

Londa Nwadike
State Specialist in Food Safety

Knowing how to properly store food and how long it will keep means less food dollars wasted and ensures food will look and taste good when used. Retaining a food's original nutrients and knowing that it is safe to eat are important.

Cupboard storage hints

  • Store foods in cool cabinets and away from appliances which produce heat.
  • Many staples and canned foods have a relatively long shelf life, but buy only what you expect to use within the time recommended in the online database indicated below. Mark food packages with the date purchased and use the oldest first, Foods stored for longer than recommended times or beyond the date on the package may change quality, color and flavor. Geographic areas will affect recommended storage time. Warm and humid conditions shorten the shelf life of goods.
  • Buy fresh-looking packages. Dusty cans or torn labels can indicate old stock. Do not purchase dented or bulging cans.

How to crisp foods

  • When cereals, crackers or snacks get stale, spread them on a cookie sheet and place in a 425 degrees Fahrenheit oven. They'll be crisp again in a few minutes and ready to eat, provided they have no off-flavors.

For information on foods commonly stored in the cupboard and how long it might last, please visit the Food Keeper App from USDA. This is an easy to search database for many different foods.


Original authors: Barbara Willenberg and Karla Hughes