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How Long Can You Keep Cooked Food?

Food Safety, How To -

Knowing how long cooked food can be kept in your refrigerator is an important part of keeping your family healthy. While it’s easy to guess that something like a salad won’t keep as long as a roasted chicken, most people aren’t aware of the exact amount of time they can safely store cooked food in their refrigerator. Let’s break down some general rules for storing cooked food and what happens when you don’t follow them.

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How Long Can You Keep Cooked Food?

How Long Does Cooked Food Last?

The answer varies depending on the type of food you are storing, but generally speaking, most cooked food will last for up to four days in the refrigerator. This includes dishes such as leftovers from a roast dinner, or stews and casseroles, and even reheated food like rotisserie chicken. If you think that four days isn't enough time to eat all your leftovers, consider freezing them instead - frozen cooked food will stay safe for at least three months.

Some foods have shorter shelf lives than others. For example, cured meats (like bacon) should only be stored for up to five days; raw eggs and egg products (like scrambled eggs) and pasta dishes and cooked rice will only keep for one to two days; and fish should not be held in the fridge longer than two days. Also note that if any of these items have been sitting out at room temperature for more than ninety minutes, they should be discarded right away.

Consequences Of Keeping Food Too Long

It's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to throwing away precooked food. Keeping cooked foods around longer than their suggested shelf life can lead to serious health consequences. Bacteria can start multiplying on perishable foods very quickly in the right conditions and as soon as food is cool (within ninety minutes) it should be placed in the refrigerator. Remember, don't place hot food in your refrigerator as this will cause the temperature in your fridge to rise. The bacteria that would multiply in all of  these cases can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea - and in extreme cases may even lead to hospitalization due to food poisoning. For anyone who may be in a vulnerable group, food poisoning can lead to death.


In conclusion, knowing how long you can keep cooked food is essential for keeping yourself and your family healthy. Be sure to check expiry dates on any prepared meal before eating it and always store leftovers in the refrigerator within ninety minutes of cooking or serving them. Frozen foods can last longer than those stored in the fridge but still need to be thrown out if they become discoloured or slimy during thawing. Following these simple tips will help ensure that you don't suffer any unpleasant consequences from eating precooked food!

Written by Matt Rhoades

Matt is our full time tea maker/web designer/delivery driver/butcher/accountant/social media man who you'll often find bickering with Dennis. Our MD with a passion for great meat and great customer service. When he's not at work he'll be creating recipes and probably barbecuing something somewhere, or making bacon jam. He loves it!!

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