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Is It Safe to Eat Your Leftovers? Here’s How to Tell

Leftovers are great — except when they’ve gone south
Ekaterina Kondratova/Shutterstock

From piling roasted vegetables into an omelet to using leftover potato chips as a breading for chicken, there are lots of ways to stretch your meals. However, knowing whether that slice of leftover pizza or tupperware of stir fry is still good can feel like a matter of chance. But if you use your sense of smell and sight, you can quickly discover if they’re still safe to eat.

Foods You Should Never Refrigerate and How to Store Them Instead

The rules for judging takeout and most cooked leftovers are similar. If your food has been in the fridge for longer than three days, look out for signs of spoilage — mold, an odor or a slimy film. Any of these clues mean it’s time to get rid of it.

Pizza should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. After that point, it’s at risk of growing food-borne bacteria. So enjoy it within a couple days and toss it if you see any mold growth.

Leftover cooked rice is perfectly safe to eat for four to six days after being refrigerated and can even be kept outside the fridge for a couple days if the room temperature is cool. If you see moisture or notice a muggy smell, toss it.

Related

When it comes to going through your stash of groceries and other cooked meals, ignore the printed expiration dates and instead look for these ways to tell if your milk, eggs and more have gone bad.