We had pizza delivered on Sunday. Today is Thursday, and I’m eating the last of the leftovers. If I didn’t eat it today (four days after delivery), I probably would toss it. In other words, I would discard refrigerated food not eaten after four days.
Generally speaking, how long do you keep leftover food before discarding? Assume that any food under consideration still smells “OK” and does not appear to be moldy or otherwise degraded.
Look and smell are paramount as it how many times something has been reheated and that it has been refrigerated properly.
I’ve had uncooked steak in the bottom of my fridge for weeks and still used it. Not a problem as long as you know your meat. Smoked and otherwise preserved fish is good until it looks and smells like it isn’t.
I took a container of leftover stew and had it for lunch. That evening, my gf noticed the Tupperware container was gone and was worried that the dogs would get sick. I told her that I ate it, not the dogs, and anyway we had stew just 5 days ago. She explained that while yes, we did have stew five days prior, there were no leftovers. The meal I had was leftover from the last time we had stew, and neither of us could recall when that was.
If it’s fully cooked and in a sealed container, and it looks and smells edible, and I’m going to heat it back up anyway, no reason to toss it just because it’s X number of days old.
We actually have “leftovers” regularly on purpose. Example: I cooked up a couple of pounds of ground beef and seasoned it for burritos. Stuck it in a container in the fridge over the weekend. The Kiddo has been making himself a burrito every day after school. It will probably last another couple of days by the time he finishes it. We do the same thing with spaghetti sauce and pasta.
I live alone most of the time, and seldom have time to cook after work, so I have a habit of making a big batch of something on the weekend and eating it until it’s gone. In the case of stews and other things that keep well, a batch may easily last a week. If I’ve got more than I’ll go through in the next week, I’ll freeze part of it.
My rule of thumb is 4 days, mostly because 3 days is how long we had food on the shelf at the deli I worked at. We sold cold salads and food that was meant to be reheated, and after it expired employees would take it home and eat it on the 4th day. In the years I worked there there were very few reports of anyone getting sick coinciding with eating the food on the 4th day.
Case by case based on sniff test/appearance test/how tired I am of eating leftovers test. Unfortunately, that leads to some becoming science experiments in the back of the fridge on occasion, but nothing has become sentient yet, so I catch everything in time.