In this fast-paced world, leftovers are a blessing during a busy week. Figuring out what is and isn’t still safe to eat can be tricky when it comes to leftovers, especially when food has only narrowly missed its expiration date or stuck around for a few extra days. By reading our handy guide to leftover freshness in the fridge, you will never have to guess again!
Looking for a quick and easy way to tell if your dish is still safe to eat?
Leftover Freshness Guide in the Fridge:
There is nothing worse than coming home after a long day at the office only to discover that there’s nothing ready to make or saved in the fridge for you to eat. One thing you can do to make saving leftovers easy for everyone is to keep your fridge clean and organized. A tidy fridge can improve airflow and maintain an even temperature, so your leftovers can go the distance and you can simultaneously reduce waste.
Breakfast Meats: Bacon can be kept for up to 7 days in the fridge, whereas sausage made from meat or poultry can only be kept for 1 – 2 days in the fridge.
Casseroles: Any cooked casserole made with beef, pork, poultry, or fish can be kept for 3 – 4 days in the fridge.
Hot Dogs: An unopened package of hot dogs can be kept for 2 weeks in the fridge, but an opened package of hot dogs can only be kept for 1 week in the fridge.
Lunch Meats: Prepackaged lunch meats bought from the deli or your local delicatessen can be kept for 3 – 5 days once the packages have been opened.
Meat: Cooked beef, pork, and poultry can be kept for 3 – 4 days in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Gravy and Broth: Cooked gravy and broth can be kept for 1 – 2 days in the fridge. You can also freeze gravy and broth in ice cube trays for a handy dose of flavor for your next meal.
Pasta: Cooked pasta can be kept for 3 – 5 days in the fridge, but pasta in soups may start to swell after the first day.
Pizza: Baked or grilled pizza can be kept for 3 – 4 days in the fridge or up to 2 months in the freezer.
Rice: Cooked rice, quinoa, and other grains can be kept for up to 1 week in the fridge.
Salads: Chicken, egg, ham, macaroni, and tuna salads can be kept for 3 – 5 days in the fridge. We do not recommend trying to freeze leftover salads.
Seafood: Fish and shellfish can be kept for 2 days in the fridge, but they will taste much better if consumed on the first day.
Soups and Stews: Soups and stews can be kept for 3 – 4 days in the fridge or 2 – 3 months in the freezer.
Vegetables: Cooked vegetables can be kept for 3 – 4 days in the fridge.
General Guidelines and Tips for Leftovers:
Whenever you decide to utilize the leftovers you have on hand, it’s important that you reheat them to a high enough temperature. Eating food at an unsafe temperature can cause foodborne illness. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, or roasts should be heated to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground beef, pork, lamb and veal should be heated to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and poultry should be heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure to measure the temperature of every meat you prepare with a food thermometer before setting aside to rest and serving. Reheat sauces, soups, and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. Cover leftovers to reheat on the stovetop, because it helps to retain moisture and ensure that the food heats all the way through.
One of the main advantages of using ceramic cookware is that you can store your leftovers in the fridge or the freezer without needing to dirty any storage containers or extra utensils. Ceramic pots and pans are grill-safe, microwave-safe, oven-safe, and stovetop-safe, making them the most versatile solution you could possibly keep in your kitchen. Ceramic cookware also has infrared heating properties that allow your ingredients to cook consistently and evenly from both the inside and the outside simultaneously, saving you time and reducing your energy usage overall. Best of all, you can pop your ceramic pots and pans into the dishwasher to make cleanup as easy as possible.
As a general rule, if you have cooked a big batch of something delicious that you know you won’t be able to finish in the next few days, go ahead and freeze a portion of the leftovers. You can also save time in the future by separating your leftovers into smaller portions, so you will have ready-made meals that just need a little defrosting. Make sure that your fridge is set between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and that your freezer is set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
You can make saving leftovers a painless experience by sealing everything tight in bags or storage containers with as little air inside as possible. Our collapsible food storage container set includes six durable yet lightweight containers that can help you cut down on time spent meal planning and prepping. Each food storage container is made of silicone, which is also safe to use in the microwave or oven. Unlike plastic storage containers, silicone storage containers do not leach chemicals or any unwanted flavors into the food you reheat. Plus, you can pop them into the dishwasher too!
We hope that this leftover freshness guide to the fridge provides valuable insight and a handful of safety tips to keep in mind. If you have any questions about this article or our selection of ceramic cookware and cooking accessories, please contact Xtrema Pure Ceramic Cookware for additional information or further assistance.