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Jun 11, 2009 11:18 AM

how long does cooked food last?

i usually get timid after a week in the fridge, but that seems like a purely arbitrary timeframe. so maybe folks could give me some guidelines for how long a couple of different kinds of dishes are safe to eat once in the fridge.

dish A: has onions, celery, carrot, beans, cabbage, potatoes
(and would it make any difference if the dish had a meat in it, like sausage?)

dish b: rice

dish c: marinated and cooked chicken thighs with onions

thank you so much for help and/or links!

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  1. My opinion is it depends on whether or not any of the food has touched your hands first before going into the refrigerator. That simple act accelerates food spoilage.

    Three days is fine, five can be safe......even longer still at times. Myself, if it smells or is slimy, it goes in the trash.

    1. Hands, shmands - is that stuff cooled or hot when you put it in the fridge? Did it sit on the counter? For how long? Is that rice plain or does it have butter or oil in it? How cold is the fridge? (there's a whole list of requirements for safe food handling, even in home kitchens - and the best answer to this probably lies in additional facets such as - how squeamish are you? are you especially sensitive to food-related illnesses? do you have any immune-system issues? There are some things I might go ahead and eat, but wouldn't offer to, say, someone with a weakened immune system, or a "sensitive" tummy.) Your best course is to familiarize yourself with the safe food standards - and go from there.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Alice Letseat

        It's official.....toss it all out and no leftovers for you....:0)

        1. re: Alice Letseat

          stuff is lukewarm when i put it in the fridge: i let things cool to room temp before putting in fridge (fridge is for keeping things cold, not mkaing them cold, and if you put hot foods in fridge it brings the temp up on everything else in there)

          i put a couple drops of oil in my rice when i cook it

          i'm not particularly sensitive to food illnesses (just poorly prepared ackee but that's another story)

          i guess i'm suprised that a lot of folks seem to have adopted the one week rule: it just seems so arbitrary for me.

          i know there are tons of food safety guidelines for restaurants, but those don't usually apply since they're not making one dish, putting it in the fridge, and reheating it the next day or three days later (or at least i hope not)

          1. re: mr mouther

            when I worked at the Radisson, one week was the rule. It was also the rule used by the sanitation inspectors, so I don't know how arbitrary it really was. And we DID make a big portion of a dish, refrigerate it, and then heat it up as needed. (soups, sauces, etc.)

            1. re: dagwood

              the reason i said it was arbitrary is because days don't necessarily need to be divided into weeks (just as the 8 hour workday is a facet of history, not divine guidance.) - but that discusion should be saved for my academic message boards re: philosophoes of time anyway.

              on this discussion: i just discovered some mold in my fridge. not in food, but in my tea container. what i usually do is make a bog pot of tea, drink it, and then when its at room temp, add to my iced tea pot in the fridge. i don't know how long that thing stays in there before i clean it (pretty long i'd imagine though, since it just contains tea and i rarely clean it out) but today i saw mold on the side. whoops! any recs for how long i should go before cleaning something like that out and starting over?

              1. re: mr mouther

                until you see mold. :)

                All kidding aside, I puree lemons every few weeks in the summer for lemonade, and keep it until I see visible mold. No one has died yet. And unless someone has a mold allergy, I don't think traces of mold (not yet visible) are going to hurt you.

        2. Usually never lasts a whole week. 1 week to me is tops. Seafood is 3 days for me after cooked. Smoked food I will keep longer like smoked salmon or chicken or pork. But I just don't take chances. I could be completely wrong, but I just don't do it. Never have.

          1. According to health code in Boston, as long as it was prepared properly and cooled quickly, 1 week.

            3 Replies
              1. re: scubadoo97

                Same here. If leftovers are in my fridge after a week, I will usually toss them, or at least look at/smell them very carefully. That's usually when that familiar spousal conversation starts.
                "Smell this. Is it still good?"
                "I don't want to smell it. If you're not sure, toss it."
                "But it smells fine to me. What do you think?"

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  One week and then tossed. The only exception is fish, which I only give a couple of days.

              2. I don't remember where I heard it, but 2+2=4; in other words, refrigerate it within 2 hours, in a container 2 inches or less and it will be good for 4 days. Overall, common sense should previal, if it looks or smells off , throw it out.

                3 Replies
                1. re: goldy12

                  This sounds like an interesting rule of thumb. But I don't understand the 2 inches rule. Does that mean less than two inches of air left in the container after the food is put in?

                  1. re: Aimee

                    I've never heard of this rule, but I suspect it's the depth of food in the container (so it chills quickly).

                    1. re: hsk

                      That's my interpretation of it. Chill the food quickly by putting it in smaller containers. 2+2=4 is just an easy way to remember it.