Let’s face it, cooking is time-consuming but making enough so that you have leftovers reduces time in the kitchen and who doesn’t love that? If you avoid leftovers at all costs, then this isn’t the post for you, but if you’re a leftover lover we’ve got a few tips to safely store and consume meals on day two or even three. 

Safe Temperature for Your Appliances

First, check your fridge and freezer to ensure that they’re set at safe, appropriate temperatures. Your refrigerator temperature should be at or below 40° F (4° C). Your freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C).

Properly Package and Store Leftovers

Stick to the “two-hour rule” when refrigerating or freezing your leftovers. Don’t let food sit out at room temperature for more than two hours before refrigerating, as this is the amount of time it typically takes for bacteria to start growing. Make sure your food is covered, preferably in an airtight container or freezer bag. This will help to prevent freezer burn, reduce the growth of bacteria, and ensure the freshness of your food. 

Refrigeration Time for Cooked Foods

It’s important to keep in mind that each food has a specific recommended amount of time that it can be stored before it spoils. Follow this quick guide for safely storing cooked foods in the fridge or freezer.

Refrigeration Time for Cooked Foods

Cooked Meats and Poultry

  • In the fridge: 3–4 days
  • In the freezer: up to 6 months

Salads With Egg, Chicken, Ham, Tuna, & Macaroni Salads

  • In the fridge: 3–5 days
  • Do not freeze

Cooked Soup and Stews with meat or veggies

  • In the fridge: 3–4 days
  • In the freezer: up to 3 months

Cooked Vegetables

  • In the fridge: 3–7 days
  • In the freezer: up to 9 months

Cooked Chicken Nuggets or Patties

  • In the fridge: 3–4 days
  • In the freezer: up to 3 months

Cooked Pizza

  • In the fridge: 3–4 days
  • In the freezer: up to 2 months

Cooked Pasta and Grains

  • In the fridge: 2–3 days
  • In the freezer: up to 3 months

Store-Bought Bread

  • At room temperature: 5–7 days
  • In the fridge: 8–10 days
  • In the freezer: up to 6 months

Hard-Cooked Eggs

  • In the fridge: 4–7 days
  • Do not freeze

Baked/Boiled Potatoes

  • In the fridge: 3–4 days
  • In the freezer: up to 12 months

Wondering how to safely thaw your food when you’re ready to eat it? Check out our post, Your Questions Answered — Safely Freezing & Defrosting Food for more tips.

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