How Long Can You Store Leftovers: Details Inside

Most of us don’t mind saving leftovers at home or packing them from restaurants. They not only save food waste but can also help you save money and time for the next meal. While it’s smart to be frugal this way, eating leftovers for too long can actually lead to foodborne illnesses. Apart from such serious issues, food kept in refrigerator for too long also loses freshness and taste after a particular time and is not good anyway. This brings us to the question, how long can you store leftovers in the fridge before they lose their flavor or become unsafe to consume?

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Ideally, it’s okay to keep them upright for about 3-4 days if you refrigerate leftovers within two hours of serving. On top of that, consultant nutritionist Rupalli Dutta suggests, “In the sense what you are storing, how you are storing and for how long affects the storage capacity of the food. If the food is cooked properly. and immediately covered and kept to cool. , then it can be stored for 24-48 hours and make sure the cooked vegetable or curry is not contaminated before putting it in the fridge but If the food has to be stored for more than 1-2 days it is better if frozen.” Now that we know the average timeline for storing leftovers, let’s take a look at various homemade or restaurant foods and how long they can be stored for safe consumption.

Here’s how long you can store leftovers:

1. Rice:

A staple of our diet no matter whether we are eating out or at home, it is common to eat leftover rice after most meals. Rice tends to dry out over time, but reheating it by sprinkling a little water helps. The starch-borne bacteria in rice are less likely to be dangerous if consumed within a maximum of two days.

Sprinkle some water to reheat leftover rice

2. Bread:

Another staple of the Indian diet, plain roti/chapati or phulka cannot be stored for more than 24 hours. After which, they are too tight and dry to consume anyway. Puris or parathas cooked in oil and ghee last longer as they take longer to dry due to the oil percentage in them. If you want to eat soft phulkas the next day, then apply some ghee on them and do not store more than 24 hours.

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3. Salad:

It is also known that storing raw foods is most likely to result in bacterial contamination. The sooner you consume them, the better. However, if you want to pack salads from restaurants or save some from your homemade lunch, make sure they are devoid of any dressing. Wash and dry thoroughly before storing in an airtight container. For best freshness and taste, consume within 24 hours.

4. Pasta:

If you’re packing pasta from a restaurant, we suggest not doing so. The succulent creaminess you love in your pasta can never be bought back the first time you cook it. The sauce dries out in the refrigerator, whereas it will become contaminated if kept in a moist outdoor environment. If you are cooking pasta at home, it would be a good practice to store the sauce and steamed pasta in separate containers before starting the cooking process. Again, sauces made for pasta should be consumed within a maximum of three days.


Store pasta and sauce leftovers in separate containers

5. Lentils:

Lentils can spoil and if not stored properly can spoil very quickly. If you have leftover lentils, be sure to store it in an airtight container. If the quantity is too much, take only the amount you are eating and reheat. Do not reheat the entire batch frequently as this can lead to rapid growth of bacteria. Homemade lentils can be saved for up to five days if stored properly.

6. Vegetable:

Cooked vegetables should not be left for more than 3 days. Even if they are kept in an airtight container, vegetables tend to lose their nutritional values ​​and flavor after about 2 days. Vegetables with protein-rich content like soy or paneer should be consumed even more quickly.

7. Non-Vegetarian Curry:

Experts around the world recommend eating protein-rich non-vegetarian dishes and curries as soon as possible. However, if you need to store them, be sure to do so in an airtight container and strictly in the refrigerator. Consume within 1-2 days and avoid reheating or storing especially egg based dishes. In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administration even recommends that cooked eggs and dishes containing eggs be served immediately after cooking.


Avoid storing leftover dishes made with eggs

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You should also consider that when dealing with restaurant leftovers; You are unaware of the freshness of the item when they were being served to you. Try and consume restaurant leftovers as quickly as possible. However, home cooked food can be fresh and kept for the above mentioned timeliness without any worries.

Disclaimer: This material, including advice, provides general information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more details. NDTV does not take responsibility for this information.