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Refrigeration and Freeze times for Meats.


Joined Nov 11, 2013
Should be an easy question, but everywhere i search, I find answers for food that is already cooked.

If meats are bought from the store and kept refrigerated, how long can they last in the fridge?

I hate the idea of buying a roast or Boston butt on a Monday, freezing it, just to have to defrost it Thursday/Friday, to smoke on a Saturday...

Thanks in advance!

Last edited:


Thread starter
Joined Nov 11, 2013
So... as soon as I post (go figure)  I look around the .gov site.

I'll post it so others will know.


How long can I keep meat in the refrigerator?

What would we do without our refrigerators! When it comes to appliances that keep our foods safe, the refrigerator may be the most important because it slows down the growth of bacteria that cause food poisoning. At temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, bacteria grows most rapidly. That’s why we call this temperature range “the Danger Zone.”

A refrigerator set to 40  °F or below will protect most foods – but not forever. The cool temperatures slow down bacterial growth but they don’t stop the growth completely. So, it’s important to use food in a timely fashion to help maintain freshness and quality. Over time, even chilled foods will spoil.

Here are some basic guidelines for storing meat in the refrigerator.
  • Raw ground meats, all poultry, seafood, and variety meats: Refrigerate 1 to 2 days.
  • Raw roasts, steaks, and chops (beef, veal, lamb, and pork):  Refrigerate 3 to 5 days.
  • Cooked meat, poultry, and seafood: Store in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.


RIP. Gone but never forgotten.
OTBS Member
Joined Apr 4, 2013
Those are guidelines, as discussed on here a few weeks ago, with the larger chains and the mass marketing going on with places like Sam's,  Costco, etc. you can find meats thawed in the meat section with a 4 to 6 week due rate. I was amazed, I feel better about holding it in my reefer for two weeks if it has a 6 week shelf life posted upon it.

Doesn't mean I'll be really surprised if when I opened one in 6 weeks to find a less than fragrant aroma radiating from the meat.

So temper guidelines and due dates with good old common sense.


Fire Starter
Joined Oct 9, 2013
Great link!!!

I'm with Foamheart... temperature (Do you have a thermometer in your fridge? Might want to get one... notice the difference in temperature between the bottom shelf and the top shelf... WOWZA!), due dates and common sense.

Since we do buy in bulk and large sizes, I tend to break my purchases into servings enough for two. I wear out my vacuum sealer every time I go to Sam's/Costco. I write on each bag...

Date purchased and frozen

Use/Freeze date

Days remaining = the difference between the top two numbers.

This is especially important information with raw bulk sausage because of the number of days it takes to completely process the sausage. I.E. buy the pork butt on day one, grind on day two or three, freeze on day three or four - sometimes this results in a "use right away" tag on the bag. Common sense comes into play - if the meat seems fresh enough, I'll put two days on the bag.

That's just how I've been doin' it.

Thanks again!



Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Jun 20, 2013
Hey Dave

I'm the same way.  Linda goes to  Cosco, spends $1000 on meat and brings it home.  Into the ziplock bag and into the freezer.  We have NEVER had a problem with our meat doing it this way.  Maybe some people with more dedlicate operating systems have, but it hasn't killed us yet  LOL I agree, you have to be careful with meat, BUT there are limits when it simply becomes plain stupid.


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