Tips for How Long to Keep Leftovers

Home, Home & Family, Living Green
on July 1, 2001

Take a whiff of the aluminum foil-wrapped piece of grilled chicken you just found behind the milk. Dont know how long its been there?

When in doubt, throw it out.

About 7 million Americans will suffer from food-borne illnesses this year, some from eating food past its storage time limit, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To protect your family, run your freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit and the refrigerator at 40 F. Keep from overloading the refrigerator because air must circulate freely to cool evenly, and dont keep food, particularly meat, too long. And never taste food that looks or smells strange. Just discard it.

The USDA recommends these refrigerator and freezer storage time limits, shown in the chart.

Product
Fridge
Freezer
Fresh eggs
3 weeks
Dont freeze
Hardboiled eggs
1 week
Dont freeze
Egg substitute, opened
3 days
Dont freeze
Egg substitute, unopened
10 days
1 year
Mayonnaise
2 months
Dont freeze
TV dinners or frozen casseroles

3-4 months
Egg, chicken, or tuna salads
3-5 days
Dont freeze
Soups and stews
3-4 days
2-3 months
Hamburger and stew meats
1-2 days
2-3 months
Ground turkey and pork
1-2 days
3-4 months
Lunch meats, opened
3-5 days
1-2 months
Lunch meats, unopened
2 weeks
(use freezer wrap) 1-2 months
Bacon
7 days
(use freezer wrap) 1 month
Smoked breakfast links
or patties
7 days
1-2 months
Fully cooked ham slices
3-4 days
1-2 months
Cooked whole ham
7 days
1-2 months
Beef steaks, roasts
3-5 days
6-12 months
Pork chops
3-5 days
4-6 months
Cooked meat leftovers
3-4 days
2-3 months
Whole turkey or chicken
1-2 days
1 year
Chicken or turkey pieces
1-2 days
9 months
Cooked poultry dishes
3-4 days
4-6 months
Cooked chicken pieces
3-4 days
4 months