How long can I keep leftover food?
Depending on the ingredients and storage conditions, leftover foods can stay fresh for a range of time. In general, if a dish was cooked safely and then rapidly cooled and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it’ll likely stay fresh for 3-4 days. If that same food was stored in the freezer, it is technically safe to eat indefinitely though will maintain quality for 3-4 months.
Be sure to reheat cooked leftover foods to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If reheating in a microwave, stir well and allow the food to rest for a few minutes after microwaving to ensure even heat distribution and prevent bacteria from hiding out in cold spots.
FoodSafety.gov is an excellent resource for food storage and safety information. Check out the FoodKeeper App for tips to help maximize the shelf life and for information on how to best store specific foods. You can also find guidelines for storing cold foods using their Cold Food Storage Chart.
For more information on food safety, visit the How to Prevent Food Poisoning page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.