How Long Are Leftovers Safe to Eat?

The Lifespan of Leftovers

I'm sure with all the holiday parties you've been throwing and attending, your fridge must be filled with leftovers. Cooked meats, side dishes, soups, and salads galore. I love having leftovers because it makes eating a healthy meal quick and easy. So how long are those foods good for?


Most foods will stay fresh and safe to eat for three to four days. Meat and dishes that contain meat should probably be eaten within two to three days.

You only want to save foods that have been sitting at room temperature for two hours or less. Refrigerate foods immediately in airtight containers or bags. To prevent food poisoning, be sure to reheat your leftovers thoroughly. It's a good idea to boil sauces, soups and gravies on the stove or in the microwave. Reheat casseroles, cooked veggies, and other hot foods in at least a 325°F oven until completely hot. You can also microwave leftovers, but be sure there are no cold spots where bacteria could live. To ensure that they're cooked thoroughly, cover these foods, and stir and rotate them for even cooking. If you have leftover desserts that contain fruit or cream, eat them within two to three days.

Fit's Tips: Keep some masking tape and a pen nearby so you can date your leftovers. Anything that's been in the fridge for longer than four days should probably be tossed. If something looks or smells funny, I'd ditch that too. It's not worth getting sick over.

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