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When Do You Toss Food?

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Milk? Hmm. Smells funny. TOSS. Chicken? Ehh. No one will eat. TOSS. Broccoli? Are those bugs? TOSS.

woman thinking about moldy cheese in fridge

If you TOSS more than you KEEP, you're not alone!

momlogic's Jenny: Every week, without fail, it seems like my husband and I argue about the state of food in our fridge. After two days, I'm pretty convinced that everything has gone bad, while he'll eat pizza from 1982. I like to play it conservatively when it comes to food possibly being past its prime, but with the state of the economy and a little one in the house, I can't constantly be tossing perfectly good food if it really IS okay to eat.

According to WebMD, before I get entirely crazy, there are some basic food guidelines to live by:

  • Milk. Usually fine until a week after the "Sell By" date.
  • Eggs. OK for three - five weeks after you bring them home (assuming you bought them before the "sell by" date). VanLandingham says double-grade As will go down a grade in a week but still be perfectly edible.
  • Poultry and seafood. Cook or freeze this within a day or two.
  • Beef and pork. Cook or freeze within three to five days.
  • Canned goods. Highly acidic foods like tomato sauce can keep 18 months or more. Low-acid foods like canned green beans are probably risk-free for up to five years.  Do not put cans in a hot place like a crawl space or garage, and  keep canned and dry food at 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in a dry, dark place. Humidity can be a factor in speeded-up deterioration. The FDA notes that taste, aroma, and appearance of food can change rapidly if the air conditioning fails in a home or warehouse. Obviously, cans bulging with bacteria growth should be discarded, no matter what the expiration date!

Well, I decided to ask some of our momlogic community to tell me, in their opinion, what THEY felt the shelf life of the following food items were:
- Bread?
- Meatloaf (cooked)?
- Chicken (cooked)?
- Pasta (cooked)?
- Pizza?
- Vegetables (cooked & uncooked)?

Here's what my fellow "tossers" had to say:

RP Mom: Bread - once it has mold (even the tiniest bit) or is dried out it goes!
- Meatloaf (cooked) - and any other cooked meat about two days
- Chicken (cooked) - same as the meatloaf, after two days it is gone
- Pasta (cooked) - does not last very long in my house but by the next day. It gets soggy.
- Pizza - never lasts LOL but I would say day two!!
- Vegetables (cooked & uncooked) -- cooked I give one day. They really dont taste great reheated in my opinion. Uncook, as soon as they get wilty looking, have mold on them/just look-feel different

JGS: I toss the bread if it has any evidence of mold or is too crispy! The meatloaf and chicken go in the garbage the next day. Pizza, well that doesn't last long in my house--usually just a day and veggie's have to really look bad for me to throw them out!

Karissa: Bread - when it is stale or moldy (not often). Any cooked food - mostly I will toss it on the 5th day, but few things make it past the next day because we take leftovers to work for lunch...

Julie: I toss the bread if it's moldy. Yuck. If it smells strange or is expired, it's out.
Meatloaf - don't eat red meat but I'd say after one day
Chicken/pasta - if I don't eat the next day, it's out
Pizza - two days
Vegetables - Cooked, two days - uncooked - if it starts looking wrinkly or weird, it's out!

Rayna: I have a two day rule. Anything that is a leftover better be used up or it is gone in two days. Pizza is only one day. After that it is nasty! Veggies uncooked I'll keep them until they are soggy or fuzzy. If they are cooked then the two day rule applies. Again with the pasta I think that a two day rule is in order. Meats like chicken or others are in the two day category. I am careful when it comes to leftovers. My husband would eat anything old or otherwise.

Spirit: Two days is my max. My hubby is the same as yours, he will scrape of the mildew and say it's fresh!!!! This use to cause weekly arguments. But what I do now, because he is the cook, and he will combine two-week-old stuff and say "Dinners Ready!!!!" I will clean out the fridge every time I see something in there over two days. This now drives him crazy because when he goes to try and re-cook old food, he will say "honey, didn't we still have some meat loaf???" And if I am in the mood to argue, I will say I threw it out. If I don't want to argue, I just say "I don't know honey!!!"

Hungry for more? Connect with Jenny in the momlogic community and tell her when do YOU toss food?

next: How Teens and Tweens Deal with Death
93 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley March 20, 2009, 8:21 AM

I keep leftovers for a week!! I usually try to eat them for lunch or something but my hubby hates leftovers. I clean out the fridge once a week and try to have a leftover night and just pile everything on the table and tell everyone to dig in. My husband usually orders pizza that night!!

Susannah Locketti March 20, 2009, 8:49 AM

I love your comments Ashley…so funny! My husband hates leftovers too. I’m like you…I go through everything during the week…I hate to see food go to waste.

Amber March 20, 2009, 11:18 AM

Maybe it’s a husband thing because mine doesn’t eat leftovers either. I usually wait a week and then what my kids don’t eat I throw out.

Barb March 20, 2009, 11:47 AM

It pains me to throw away food, so I rarely do it! Sauce from 10 days ago? Just warm it up super hot; that will burn away the bacteria. Open tofu that I forgot to change the water on since last week? Just give it a good rinse. I know it sounds gross, but nobody in my family has gotten sick yet.

Peggy Gorman March 20, 2009, 3:09 PM

I try to keep the fridge cleaned out . I always check before I eat but once in a while I will have a science project in there without anyone knowing. My brother was living with me a few years back and he asked me “What kind of fish did you have in the fridge?” Fish,what fish, I don’t have any fish in the fridge,I told him. The look on his face was priceless and to this day I have no idea what he ate.

The Mother March 20, 2009, 6:35 PM

I have four boys, so you’d think I wouldn’t have leftovers. Or that they would get eaten.


When I need frig space, I go through and toss the stuff that’s visibly hairy. Everything else goes back in. Until the next time. And by then, it will be fuzzy.

Bread and cheese mold? Cut it off and eat it. Not many truly toxic bread or cheese molds.

shequira March 24, 2009, 8:16 PM

I’m with Ashley, at least a week. My husband will eat leftovers, though. But for some reason he just wont eat it until the day I decide to use it in a meal. I keep bread in the fridge so it lasts pretty long. Veggies are kepted until they smell or look funny.

Melanie Lee March 29, 2009, 2:52 PM

I really try to avoid ending up with leftovers. If I cook a big batch of something, I seperate it into meals and freeze them.In the rare instance I have any leftovers, I usually eat them for lunch.

Mia March 30, 2009, 6:20 PM

I’m with Melanie Lee, I freeze unless I’m using the left overs in a stir fry or soup.

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