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October 7th, 2004

The Leftover Rule

What’s the absolute limit on your leftovers? How long is “too long”?

A co-worker was telling me that his family in India never saves leftovers from day to day, they always give them to the homeless and then cook something new the next day. My sister, in her late teens, at least, refused to eat anything leftover in the fridge, with very few exceptions. I, on the other hand, have no problem eating a leftover meal from a week earlier as long as it passes the “it doesn’t smell funny” test and the “it doesn’t have fuzz on it” test.

More frequently, though, leftovers from a big dinner will become lunch for the next few days. Likewise, any leftovers from a lunch out will often become dinner. Fortunately, I rarely have to battle the white fuzz.

Posted in Food and Beverage

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Thursday October 7, 2004 -- 11:23:49 am
Depends on the type of food. I had some tortillas from a restaurant that I stuck in a plastic bag months ago and put in the fridge. Last week I made burritos and warmed the tortillas in the oven between two moist paper towels and people thought I made the tortillas from scratch that night.

On the other hand, wet foods don't seem to last so long.

As for fuzz, I once considered scooping the green hair off of the top of sour cream because it only seemed like the very top layer was affected. I bet it would have worked to, but the mental image of vomiting for weeks kept me from experimenting to that degree.

Most women I know won't eat leftovers, while most men I know actually prefer leftovers, so I suspect the results of this query may reveal a bit of a gender divide.

Cold pizza--I'll eat it no matter how old so long as it's not too dry.
Donuts--depends on the toughness index. I actually don't mind stale donuts, but they must go when they are hard
Bagels--This is a practical matter. I won't eat them once they've gotten too hard with age to bite through.
Spaghetti--as long as it doesn't smell
Chicken--smell test minus a day--this means that if I think it will smell bad the next day, I won't eat it.

FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday October 7, 2004 -- 11:59:02 am
Leftovers rule.

I often, especially with soups, make more than we need for dinner so we can have leftovers for lunch. I also love taking leftovers and making new stuff. For example, leftover stir fry makes a fantastic frittata for breakfast the next day.

When I'm ambitous, packing bento boxes for lunch allows me to make use of even small amounts of leftovers.

It isn't often we grow science experiments in the fridge.

FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday October 7, 2004 -- 12:00:47 pm
And to actually answer your question...usually about 4-5 days, depending. I'm an expert sniff-tester.

FROM: Caroline Obert
DATE: Thursday October 7, 2004 -- 1:30:12 pm
I agree with Cat. Actually I worked with a bunch of food microbiologists that said never keep anything cooked in the fridge past 4 days.

FROM: redgotee
DATE: Friday October 8, 2004 -- 1:34:19 pm
leftovers rule! make some foods just so i can eat themas leftovers... the absolute best dish as a leftover is lasagna. i'll make one of those on a sunday - then reheat it again on tues or weds... same goes for hamburgers... on a lazy sturday afternoon, i'll grill up like 10 or 12 burgers and stick em straight into the fridge... makes for an easy packin' lunch.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Saturday October 9, 2004 -- 10:06:59 am
Two days is usually the max around these parts. If I don't take 'em for lunch the very next day, the odds of them being consumed go way down.

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