Modern Western people waste an extraordinary amount of food. Not only is wasting food bad for the environment, but it is also bad for the budget – buying food and simply throwing half of it away is never an economical thing to do. Of course, in many cases things are sold in much larger portions or quantities than you actually need all at once, particularly if you are only cooking for yourself or for two people rather than a whole family.
You can still easily avoid waste however, by keeping the food you don’t use preserved in your fridge or freezer, or cooking more of a dish than you need and keeping some for another day.
How Long Is Food Safe For After You Store It In Your Refrigerator?
Many people do put leftovers in their refrigerators with the intention of eating them, but then after a couple of days have passed they are unsure if the food is still safe to eat, and they end up throwing it out anyway. In actual fact, the safe times for common foods to be refrigerated (specifically, kept at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) are quite easy to learn:
- Raw poultry, raw sausages and raw ground meats (for example hamburger or ground turkey) have the shortest period where they are safe in the fridge, and should be used within one or two days. If you aren’t likely to do this, freeze them instead or cook them – cooked forms of these meats are safe for three to four days in the fridge instead.
- Other raw meats including steaks, pork chops, lamb and veal, in any cut, are safe for three to five days in the fridge.
- Opened packages of cold cooked lunch meats are good for up to five days. Unopened packs can last for two weeks (with some preservatives they can last even longer so feel free to go by the use by date on the pack).
- Bacon is typically safe in the fridge for a week.
- Mayo based salads, including those containing cooked egg, chicken or ham, can be kept for three to five days.
- Cooked leftovers including cooked meat or chicken, pizza, vegetables and most side dishes can be kept for three to four days.
Further Advice About Refrigeration and Freezing
These are all conservative amounts of time that will guarantee the food will be safe (assuming it was fresh when you put it in the refrigerator). Some foods may keep longer, depending on their original freshness and other factors, so don’t panic if you have been eating things that have been kept in your fridge for longer than these recommended times. Whatever kind of fridge you have, whether it’s a huge commercial refrigerator or a small fridge-freezer, the same rules apply as long as the food is kept below 40 degrees at all times.
When it comes to freezing, food is technically safe to eat indefinitely, however there are recommendations in terms of when you should use the food for it to taste its best. These tend to range from just a month or two for pre-cooked leftovers, to around a year for a lot of fresh meats, though it will not usually be harmful to eat foods that have been frozen for periods well beyond these guidelines, as long as you know that it has never been thawed and refrozen.
Today’s guest post is contributed by Richard Maxwell. A complete food buff, he likes to cook up various dishes and fulfill his hunger. When he isn’t busy munching away at his favourite dishes, he blogs about recipes and other stuff.
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