Ask the Tufts Experts May 2023: How long to keep leftovers


Q: I want to reduce my food waste, but I don’t want to eat spoiled food. How long will leftovers keep in my fridge?

A: Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “How long leftovers stay safe and good quality depends on the type of food. As a general recommendation, refrigerated leftover cooked animal protein is best if eaten in three to four days. Cooked grains and starches may last a bit longer. Another option is to wrap tightly and freeze until you are ready to use. I’ve included specific information on some common foods below. For more information, go to or check out the FoodKeeper app, which contains information on over 650 different foods.

“Remember, these ranges are just suggestions, and food that is not of “best quality” is not necessarily dangerous. Food spoilage bacteria are not the same organisms that cause food poisoning. Spoiled food will look or smell different and may have a different texture, but it is typically not dangerous. Reducing food waste saves money, increases the amount of food available for people who don’t always have enough to eat, conserves natural resources and energy, decreases environmental damage, and contributes to addressing climate change. Most importantly, use your best judgment. If something does not smell or look right, discard it.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here