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jca's avatar

Leftovers (prepared food) in the refrigerator: How old is too old?

Asked by jca (36043points) August 6th, 2015

For you, what is the longest you will keep food in the refrigerator (leftover prepared food), before you deem it to be too old. I’m not referring to things like cheese or butter, I’m referring to cooked food, either that you made yourself or taken home from a restaurant.

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16 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Like a Ham, or a roast beef?
Or a vegetable dish?
Or something like an Apple pie?

jca's avatar

@SQUEEKY2: any and all of the above. Just looking for your general standards.

Zaku's avatar

Depends on what it is, but maybe 4–5 days max.

Well, I mean, I tend to not want to eat typical food I’ve cooked that’s older than that. If you meant actually how long it gets to exist in the fridge, well, that might be months, if I’m ignoring what’s on the back of the shelves…

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@jca, meat usually a week, same with the pie, veggies they go weird pretty quick so just a few days for them.

ibstubro's avatar

It depends on how closely I’ve controlled the food, to an extent. If it’s not sat out and only been reheated in portions that were eaten, 4–5 days for something like meat or a casserole. If just meat has been forgotten a week and there’s no apparent change in smell or appearance, I’ll re-purpose it…i.e. recook it into a dish that will be eaten/disposed. Generally my rule on meat and meat dishes is if there’s more one portion left at 3 days, freeze if possible.

Vegetables I usually use fresh or frozen and only cook what I think will be consumed with a meal. If I make a veggie casserole I hit it hard, since I don’t eat meat and I love cold leftovers.

I’m not big on desserts and they usually go quickly, so if I see something start to green, I pitch it.

Stinley's avatar

Two or three maximum. If the ingredients used were nearing their use by dates then I would eat or throw after 1 day in the fridge

I’m not very good a eating up leftovers. Sometimes I think that I put things in the fridge just to rest them there for a day before they get thrown away. So I do try to just cook what we will eat

kritiper's avatar

Depends on what color they’re changing to, are they growing hair or slime, and the smell. If you’re not sure, put it back. It’s not yours.
If you decide to eat it, get out the mustard, horseradish, and ketchup. And the syrup of ipecac.

Pachy's avatar

Depends on the leftover, but as a rule I err on the side of caution. I know I’ve wasted a lot of money by throwing away perfectly good stuff before I needed to, but then, I’ve never had ptomaine poisoning.

I have to also admit that nothing I’ve ever prepared myself looks good enough to eat a day or two later.

JLeslie's avatar

I like to eat cooked food containing meat within 5 days. Usually, it’s within 2 or 3 days. Dishes without meat I will stretch to 7, maybe longer depending what it is.

ibstubro's avatar

What have you stretched past a week, @JLeslie? Do you remember?

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro I would stretch cooked vegetables. Also, a sauce or jam made from fruit would easily stay good over a week.

Kardamom's avatar

Personally, I am only comfortable with 2 to 3 days. I have people with compromised immune systems at my house so I always try to err on the side of caution.

Here’s some info from the Mayo Clinic about Leftovers and Food Poisoning

ibstubro's avatar

Maybe a veggie casserole, @JLeslie.

Sweets until the show mold.

JLeslie's avatar

Casserole changes it. Once you add other ingredients I’m back to most likely feeling best if it’s eaten by the 5th day. I’m talked about cooked vegetables that have nothing on them, or at most were cooked with a little oil and salt.

jca's avatar

What prompted me to ask this question was I had some beef stew from a diner, bought on a Tuesday, and I asked this on a Thursday, 9 days later. I think a week would be my maximum to eat anything prepared. A week or less. I don’t usually eat leftovers at all – they go into the refrigerator and then they get thrown out. I didn’t specify about the stew in my question because I didn’t want it to become only about that.

JLeslie's avatar

Restaurant leftovers I eat within a day or two usually.

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