How Long Are Leftovers Good For? Food Safety Made Simple

Updated September 22, 2021
Woman taking leftovers from refrigerator

You know how it goes. You store your leftovers, sure that you'll be able to finish them up in a day or two. Then life happens, and you're starting to wonder how long those leftovers are good for. Consult this handy chart to determine what to enjoy and what to toss.

Leftover Food Storage Chart

As a general rule, cooked leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and stored in the freezer for several months before going bad. Specific examples include:

Type of Food Refrigerator (35 to 40 degrees) Freezer (0 degrees)
Cooked meats, including ham 3 to 4 days 2 to 6 months
Cooked poultry 3 to 4 days 4 months
Cooked poultry in broth/gravy 3 to 4 days 6 months
Cooked fish/shellfish 2 to 3 days 3 months
Pizza 3 to 4 days 1 to 2 months
Soups and stews 3 to 4 days 2 to 6 months
Cooked stuffing 3 to 4 days 1 month
Chicken nuggets 3 to 4 days 1 to 3 months
Casseroles 3 to 4 days 2 to 6 months
Meat salad with mayonnaise 3 to 5 days Do not freeze
Egg salad with mayonnaise 3 to 5 days Do not freeze
Macaroni salad 3 to 5 days Do not freeze
Sandwiches 2 to 3 days 1 month
Egg casseroles or quiches 3 to 4 days 2 months
Lettuce salad 7 days Do not freeze
Greens 3 to 5 days 8 to 12 months
Cooked vegetables 1 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Gravy/broth 1 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Baked fruit pies 2 to 3 days 6 to 8 months
Pumpkin pie 2 to 3 days 1 to 2 months
Cranberry sauce, homemade 10 to 14 days 2 months
Cranberry sauce, canned 3 to 4 days Do not freeze
Cakes 2 to 4 days 1 to 4 months
Pudding 5 to 6 days Do not freeze
Baked breads 2 to 3 days 2 to 3 months

Meats, Poultry, and Fish

As a general rule, meats, poultry, and fish can be kept in the refrigerator for several days and in the freezer for longer time periods. Use the chart below to help determine how long to safely keep leftover meats.

Type of Food Refrigerator (35 to 40 degrees) Freezer (0 degrees)
Fresh hamburger/ground meat 1 to 2 days 3 to 4 months
Fresh poultry 1 to 2 days 9 to 12 months
Fresh beef, veal, lamb, or pork 3 to 5 days 4 to 12 months
Fresh fish 1 to 2 days 3 to 6 months
Canned fish 1 year Do not freeze
Smoked fish 10 days 4 to 5 weeks
Bacon 7 days 1 month
Luncheon meat 3 to 14 days 1 to 2 months
Hot dogs 7 to 14 days 1 to 2 months

Eggs

The amount of time you can keep eggs depends on whether the eggs are cooked. Use the chart below as a guideline.

Type of Food Refrigerator (35 to 40 degrees) Freezer (0 degrees)
Fresh eggs with the shell 3 to 5 weeks Do not freeze eggs in shells; beat whites and yolks together, then freeze up to 12 months
Raw egg yolks 2 to 4 days Do not freeze
Raw egg whites 2 to 4 days 12 months
Hard-boiled eggs 7 days Do not freeze
Egg substitutes, opened 3 days Do not freeze
Egg substitutes, unopened 10 days 12 months
Unshelled cooked eggs 3 to 4 days 2 months

Dairy Foods

Dairy food storage guidelines also vary, and expiration dates come in handy. However, if the food looks or smells sour or has a curdled appearance, it's time to throw it out.

Type of Food Refrigerator (35 to 40 degrees) Freezer (0 degrees)
Milk 1 to 5 days beyond sell-by date 3 months (texture may change)
Condensed milk or evaporated milk 7 days Do not freeze
Yogurt 7 to 10 days Do not freeze
Cottage cheese 1 week 3 months
Cheese 1 month 4 to 6 months
Cream cheese 2 weeks Do not freeze
Buttermilk 2 weeks Do not freeze
Sour cream 2 weeks Do not freeze
Cream 1 to 5 days beyond sell-by date Do not freeze
Butter 2 weeks Do not freeze
Ice cream, opened Do not store in fridge 2 to 3 weeks
Ice cream, unopened Do not store in fridge 2 months

Fruits and Vegetables

The length of time you should keep fruits and veggies varies, but if you see discoloration or mold, toss it.

Type of Food Refrigerator (35 to 40 degrees) Freezer (0 degrees)
Canned fruit 1 year Do not freeze
Canned fruit, opened 2 to 4 days Varies
Most fresh fruit 3 to 28 days 9 to 12 months
Dried fruit 6 months 1 year
Most fresh vegetables 2 to 7 days Varies
Carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, and radishes 14 days Varies
Canned vegetables, opened 1 to 4 days 2 to 3 months

Safely Storing Food

The amount of time you should keep leftover foods varies; storing cooked leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days is a good rule of thumb. If leftovers smell or taste funny, are discolored or slimy, or you see visible mold, throw out the food. When in doubt, throw it out.

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How Long Are Leftovers Good For? Food Safety Made Simple