Can I Still Eat That

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Utilizing leftovers as part or all of your lunches is a great time saving way to eat healthy. But when the fridge can turn into undiscovered territory, you sometimes find yourself asking “can I still eat that?”

Left Overs: Can I Still Eat That? with

When I make my weekly menus, I choose a dinner or two that I know will make more than we can eat. Those extras provide simple, ready made lunches for my busy work days. One of the challenges of incorporating leftovers is food safety. From storage containers to shelf life, here’s what you need to to keep in mind.


Leftovers store best in shallow containers that are less than 3 inches deep, which helps them to cool quickly into the “safe zone” to prevent bacteria growth. You can either use containers with lids that seal tightly or cover with carefully sealed cling wrap. One key, and often overlooked, safety measure is that anytime food is warmed up or brought to room temperature it should be placed in a new and clean container instead of put back in the fridge in the same one.

The 2:4 Rule

In general, the 2:4 rule applies to most foods. Foods can be at room temperature (this starts whenever cooked food is off the heat or out of the fridge) for 3 hours safely. With correct storage and refridgeration, leftovers can safely last four days in the fridge before being eaten or thrown out.


Knowing the exact age of your food is vital when you’re regularly using leftovers as your lunch. An easy way to do this is to keep a wet erase marker in a drawer near your fridge. Wet erase markers can write on glass or plastic and will simply wash off with water. Make a note on the lid detailing what is in the container and what date it was made.


It’s not just cooked food that can go bad, but your ingredients have a shelf life too! Pantry items in particular are susceptible to being left too long. Even if they appear to be usable, ingredients past their expiration date can compromise the safety of your cooked dish.


What are your favorite ways to use leftovers?

Digital strategist Kristen Smith, author of If The Saddle Fits, offers equestrian bloggers a place to learn, grow and connect with Blogging From The Barn. She holds multiple nutrition certifications and at her day job, helps equestrian professionals and businesses to harness the power of social media at KLSmith Creative.

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