Author Topic: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?  (Read 15522 times)

Stachetastic

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What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« on: October 14, 2014, 09:28:06 AM »
My SO and I have an ongoing discussion in our household regarding this. He thinks leftovers are good for up to a week, guidelines I'm finding say typically 3 days. Where do you draw the line?

GuitarStv

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2014, 09:33:29 AM »
It varies a lot between types of food.  I won't eat them if they smell or taste funny, or if they've developed new colours.  For most meals we cook they're good for a week and a half to two weeks.

Greg

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2014, 09:38:25 AM »
I usually put leftover dinner into small containers for the next day's lunch.  If you think you have more than a couple days' leftovers, put them in the freezer and then you probably don't need to worry.

Sylly

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2014, 09:38:38 AM »
It varies a lot between types of food.  I won't eat them if they smell or taste funny, or if they've developed new colours.

That. Things get tossed if they look fuzzy, smell funny, or feel weird (e.g., slimy), or all of the above.

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2014, 09:44:02 AM »
This has been a huge issue for me to overcome, believe it or not. When I was 10 years old, I watched a TV special about food spoilage and it has really stuck with me (I am in my mid-30s now!). I will spare you the details, but leftover rice is scary stuff! Because of this, I have had a strict 3 day rule, but in practice it was more of a 2 day rule because leftovers just freaked me out. But over the last 6 months I have made an effort to expand this, and I am now sorta mildly "comfortable" eating leftovers 5 days out. Nothing horrible has happened yet. I also freeze things if I think it will be more than 2 days before I can eat it. For some reason, freezing food that is already 5 days old seems like a bad idea. This is not based in science.

Jessa

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2014, 09:47:54 AM »
My SO and I have an ongoing discussion in our household regarding this. He thinks leftovers are good for up to a week, guidelines I'm finding say typically 3 days. Where do you draw the line?

We're the opposite, he gets suspicious after about 3 days, for me, as long as it doesn't smell/look weird, I'll eat it, probably up to a week and a half. Leftovers don't usually go that long, though.

I do think some people are more prone to food poisoning than others...and people who have had food poisoning are much more careful about what they eat. I've never gotten sick from eating bad food, so I don't really worry about it (*knock on wood*)

snshijuptr

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2014, 09:52:01 AM »
I usually put leftover dinner into small containers for the next day's lunch.  If you think you have more than a couple days' leftovers, put them in the freezer and then you probably don't need to worry.

This. We have to really not like something for it to last. I actually really prefer the "make 2-3 lunches and freeze the rest" strategy.

Also ensure that you put leftovers at the front of the fridge and don't cook more.

bo_knows

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2014, 10:04:36 AM »
If leftovers last for a week in my fridge, I make it a priority to eat them up very soon. Otherwise, I stick with this:

Quote
It varies a lot between types of food.  I won't eat them if they smell or taste funny, or if they've developed new colours.

HappyHoya

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2014, 10:37:37 AM »
It varies a lot between types of food.

This. I've heard/read that acidic types of food have some limited natural protection from bacterial growth (hence why tomato sauce doesn't change all that quickly). Conversely, I am more careful with anything that contains dairy or other animal products. Consider how fresh the food was when you bought and cooked it (although, if the food is cooked at a high enough temperature to kill any germs acquired in transit, this may be more about palatable texture than safety).

I'm pretty careful about food safety, but I'm also a big fan of leftovers and don't let them go to waste. I'll eat most anything 3-4 days after it was cooked (and usually plan to make enough to do this). Some things, like vegetable soups/stews, or simple cooked meal components, I'll eat up to 6 days or more after cooking, as long as it looks good and I know it was very fresh when I cooked it. For anything more than a few days post-cooking, I reheat carefully to make sure it is thoroughly heated at a temperature high enough to kill of anything really nasty. I've had a lot of luck with this method and I definitely don't have an especially strong stomach--I get food poisoning occassionally when I eat out but have never given it to myself at home from my own leftovers.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 10:42:12 AM by HappyHoya »

4alpacas

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2014, 10:44:50 AM »
I freeze my leftovers to give me a longer period of time to eat them.  I only have to microwave them a bit longer.

frugaliknowit

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2014, 10:50:14 AM »
3 days, then freezer.  I'll go a little longer with roasted beets.

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2014, 10:56:05 AM »
We've gone up to a week for something very large like a big pot of stew, but otherwise we generally eat leftovers within 3 days. If we have a backlog of leftovers I just don't cook for a day or two, and they disappear quickly.

We're also vegans, so have a lot more leeway. I imagine our leftovers could last for at least a week and a half or two weeks if needed.

Louis the Cat

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2014, 11:38:39 AM »
We're of the 'as long as it's not suspicious' school of leftover thought although we've gotten much better about finishing them off relatively quickly (3-5 days). However, I have a pretty sensitive stomach so if something makes me sick and it's within a reasonable amount of time for leftovers (a week-ish), DH is responsible for finishing it off. To the best of my knowledge, he's never gotten sick in that scenario.

Eric

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2014, 11:53:41 AM »
Does it taste/smell similar to the original dish?  If yes, dig in.  If not, add hot sauce prior to digging in.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2014, 11:55:59 AM »
Leftovers? I'm lucky if they last a day.

Sometimes I plan ahead enough to make a huge batch intended for the freezer, but we don't have much freezer space.

ketchup

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2014, 12:02:26 PM »
Three days, going into the morning of the fourth has been my fake rule of thumb for anything with meat or dairy in it.  Anything else gets the sniff test/quick visual check.

JJsfr

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2014, 12:13:23 PM »
Contains meat? 7 days
Veggies: til they look/taste/feel funny or start growing something new

I rarely let anything last that long, though.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 12:16:15 PM by jsfr »

GuitarStv

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2014, 12:24:22 PM »
Wow, many of you are throwing out a ton of perfectly good meat and dairy foods because of these rules of thumb.

ketchup

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2014, 12:26:35 PM »
Wow, many of you are throwing out a ton of perfectly good meat and dairy foods because of these rules of thumb.
I'm rarely throwing anything out, I just eat everything before it hit the threshold.  If I know it won't happen, I'll freeze stuff.

merula

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2014, 12:43:08 PM »
Does it taste/smell similar to the original dish?  If yes, dig in.  If not, add hot sauce prior to digging in.

+1

I don't have any rules about number of days. If it's moldy and I can cut off the mold, I'll do that. If I can recook it to kill growth, I'll do that too. (Tomato sauce and whey are the last foods I did that to.)

forummm

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2014, 12:44:04 PM »
We routinely eat leftovers for up to 10 days after cooking them. We almost always make large meals that we'll eat for the rest of the entire week. If you're good about food handling and preparation, things will last a long time in the fridge. Don't leave things sitting on the counter a long time (get the food out that you want to eat, put it on a plate, and put the rest back in the fridge before it warms up). I've been doing this for years and I've never once gotten sick from eating leftovers I made. But if something goes bad, I'll chuck it (rarely happens though).

VirginiaBob

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2014, 12:44:15 PM »
I'm pretty picky on this topic.  I tend to eat leftovers within 24 hours - 2 days is my max.  It doesn't matter what your timeline is though - just make a point to finish them off as quick as practical.

megaschnauzer

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2014, 12:49:43 PM »
i usually just microwave the shit out of it. that should kill anything bad, right? today i had a slightly brown salad. kinda hard to microwave lettuce. our food stays in the refrigerator maybe a week then gets shoved in the freezer. i've yet to get sick but i do feel kinda bad sometimes. i hate wasting food.

frugalnacho

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2014, 12:55:30 PM »
I usually have a 2-3 day rule.  If I can't get to it before then I freeze it.  If I don't bother to freeze it or eat it within 3 days then I probably didn't want to eat it anyway.

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2014, 12:57:08 PM »
We eat leftovers until they are gone.

We've made a huge effort not to waste any food and it's been working. We threw out a few grapes the other week, but other than that, all food is eaten. We'll eat the same dinner 3-4 nights in a row, the same lunch every day--basically whatever it takes to finish all food. We base our meals and snacks around what's about to go bad, so we eat random combinations of stuff, which is fine with us. It also helps that we rarely eat meat or dairy.

Food waste is mega expensive and, well, a waste.

justplucky

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #25 on: October 14, 2014, 01:21:44 PM »
3-4 days. If it gets to be Day 2 and it doesn't look like I'll be eating it on Day 3 I'll toss it in the freezer.

Catbert

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #26 on: October 14, 2014, 01:22:43 PM »
I'm in the "if it doesn't look or smell funny eat it camp."  Only exception is rare or pinkish meat, then not more than a week.  Most things get eaten much sooner.

I've had a perpetual tomato sauce going for a couple of months now.  It's tomato and other veggies but no meat.  I add to it with tomatoes and leftover veggies chopped small.  When tomato season is over it will go away to be replaced with perpetual soup for the winter.

I must admit that I have a cast iron stomach.

Philociraptor

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #27 on: October 14, 2014, 01:24:43 PM »
Until it looks or smells funny, generally up to 2 weeks. Waste not, want not.

lakemom

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #28 on: October 14, 2014, 01:48:28 PM »
Crucial to "length of time" is how cold your fridge is.  It should be around 34-37deg F for the freshest foods after the longest times.  Often if your produce is going bad in less than a week its because your fridge is too warm.  When I first read this years ago I was like....yeah right...its set at the factory setting.  I dialed it down a bit (different fridges will have different settings) and don't ya know, my produce lasts a long time in a fresh state.  Same goes for leftovers, although I will freeze in lunch size portions if I think something is not going to get used up within the week.

hybrid

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #29 on: October 14, 2014, 02:00:47 PM »
This one is a work in progress. Leftovers at my house tend to only last 1-2 days, after which point they turn absolutely invisible to all members of the household but me. Aside from that, remarkably, they don't seem to spoil at a faster rate than leftovers in other refrigerators in other homes. I have yet to figure out whether I have stumbled upon a Samsung Miracle of Science, or perhaps instead I have developed a superability to spot perfectly edible leftovers in the fridge that mere mortals cannot sense.   

Kaspian

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #30 on: October 14, 2014, 02:04:16 PM »
Leftovers get put in containers and thrown in the freezer after every single meal--whether there's a possibility I'd eat it later that week or not.  Celery/carrots/broccoli fresh veggies start to turn?  Chopped up and in the freezer you go.  Apples start to go too soft? Chopped up, in the freezer (amazing in stews!).  The only food waste I ever have is lettuce one in a while and very occasionally sour cream.  Hmmm..  Come to think of it--pretty sure I could figure a way to freeze half the container of sour cream in advance so there wasn't as much wastage if what was in the fridge had to be tossed?

Zikoris

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #31 on: October 14, 2014, 02:11:58 PM »
Just to add, food waste is a big deal to us and I feel like we've made huge progress over the last year at only throwing away absolute kitchen disasters. We make weekly meal plans based around sales and what we need rather than just buying whatever, and adjust our meal plan frequently to account for having more or less leftovers than we need.

nereo

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #32 on: October 14, 2014, 02:14:28 PM »
Reading the replies here has me scratching my head and asking "why do so many MMM types keep stashes of cooked food in their fridges for days on end?"

If a core belief among MMMers is creating optimal and efficient lives, what's going on here?  Even excluding breakfast and snacks, you've got at least 6 opportunities to input leftovers into your stomach before 3 days* has elapsed.


*i'm of the opinion that there are many foods that could keep longer than three days.  but then you're just wasting money and food, both of which seem very unmustachian.

hybrid

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #33 on: October 14, 2014, 02:18:45 PM »
Reading the replies here has me scratching my head and asking "why do so many MMM types keep stashes of cooked food in their fridges for days on end?"

If a core belief among MMMers is creating optimal and efficient lives, what's going on here?  Even excluding breakfast and snacks, you've got at least 6 opportunities to input leftovers into your stomach before 3 days* has elapsed.


*i'm of the opinion that there are many foods that could keep longer than three days.  but then you're just wasting money and food, both of which seem very unmustachian.

My bold. Realizing the need to be optimal and efficient and actually being optimal and efficient is often a work in progress!

mm1970

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #34 on: October 14, 2014, 02:23:36 PM »
Generally, 5 or 6 days

Eric

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #35 on: October 14, 2014, 02:26:12 PM »
Reading the replies here has me scratching my head and asking "why do so many MMM types keep stashes of cooked food in their fridges for days on end?"

If a core belief among MMMers is creating optimal and efficient lives, what's going on here?  Even excluding breakfast and snacks, you've got at least 6 opportunities to input leftovers into your stomach before 3 days* has elapsed.


*i'm of the opinion that there are many foods that could keep longer than three days.  but then you're just wasting money and food, both of which seem very unmustachian.

Because it's extremely efficient to make a large batch of most anything and then eat it over time.  Cooking on a daily basis is much less efficient than large batches.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #36 on: October 14, 2014, 02:29:48 PM »
Reading the replies here has me scratching my head and asking "why do so many MMM types keep stashes of cooked food in their fridges for days on end?"

If a core belief among MMMers is creating optimal and efficient lives, what's going on here?  Even excluding breakfast and snacks, you've got at least 6 opportunities to input leftovers into your stomach before 3 days* has elapsed.


*i'm of the opinion that there are many foods that could keep longer than three days.  but then you're just wasting money and food, both of which seem very unmustachian.

I may have a 2-5 day rule for leftovers, but that doesn't mean I am throwing food out. That just means I have to eat it within that time frame. I can't remember the last time I threw leftovers out. Or any food, really. I am pretty efficient. :)

Louis the Cat

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #37 on: October 14, 2014, 02:34:42 PM »
Reading the replies here has me scratching my head and asking "why do so many MMM types keep stashes of cooked food in their fridges for days on end?"

If a core belief among MMMers is creating optimal and efficient lives, what's going on here?  Even excluding breakfast and snacks, you've got at least 6 opportunities to input leftovers into your stomach before 3 days* has elapsed.


*i'm of the opinion that there are many foods that could keep longer than three days.  but then you're just wasting money and food, both of which seem very unmustachian.

My bold. Realizing the need to be optimal and efficient and actually being optimal and efficient is often a work in progress!

So true!

geekette

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #38 on: October 14, 2014, 02:37:06 PM »
A week, and then I don't want to chance it.  Things don't last that long though.

Oddly, the only time I've gotten sick, it was from "fresh" Chinese restaurant food.  My mom and sister, though, got salmonella from a hotel breakfast. 

Emilyngh

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #39 on: October 14, 2014, 02:47:36 PM »
My SO and I have an ongoing discussion in our household regarding this. He thinks leftovers are good for up to a week, guidelines I'm finding say typically 3 days. Where do you draw the line?

I don't know how long things are technically good for (being vegetarian, it's probably at least a week).   But, if I don't eat in in about 2 days, then I'm probably avoiding it and not in the mood, and go ahead and freeze it until the day comes when it seems new again.

hybrid

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #40 on: October 14, 2014, 02:48:34 PM »
A week, and then I don't want to chance it.  Things don't last that long though.

Oddly, the only time I've gotten sick, it was from "fresh" Chinese restaurant food.  My mom and sister, though, got salmonella from a hotel breakfast.

I had a really bad case of food poisoning once, and it was from a caterer (took down most of the management team at the company I worked for). This is something you wouldn't wish on your mortal enemy.

nereo

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #41 on: October 14, 2014, 02:55:58 PM »
Reading the replies here has me scratching my head and asking "why do so many MMM types keep stashes of cooked food in their fridges for days on end?"
(snip)

Because it's extremely efficient to make a large batch of most anything and then eat it over time.  Cooking on a daily basis is much less efficient than large batches.
yeah, I get that, and we love large batch cooking for both economic and time-saving reasons.  I guess our strategy is just to cook a large meal, then portion the leftovers at the end of the meal.  One or two meals go into the fridge for the next day (or two)'s lunch and/or dinner, and the rest gets frozen.  Portioning things out keeps us from overeating, keeps us from wasting food, and gives us a quick-meal choice when work or play keep us from getting home at a reasonable hour (thus saving us from 'take-out emergency' situations).
So.... just my suggestions for people who constantly find themselves throwing out food.
I think anytime you throw away formerly tasty food you shuold give yourself a face-slap.

deborah

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #42 on: October 14, 2014, 03:03:16 PM »
Food deterioration also depends on the time of year. On a hot summer day, whipped cream can be off in an hour where I live. Stuff kept in the fridge or freezer generally lasts longer. Uncooked rice and wheat have been known to last many decades. Preserving techniques like salting, sugaring or drying (for example meat) also make things last longer.

Sylly

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #43 on: October 14, 2014, 03:16:21 PM »
I'm not getting the impression that a lot of food is being thrown out, based on my reading of these replies. The OP asks how long people think leftovers are good for. Just because people say they throw out things that look/smell funny, or things older than 3 days, doesn't mean they do it regularly, i.e., it's entirely likely that means they eat all their leftovers before the leftovers pass the throw out threshold. Or maybe I'm just giving people the benefit of the doubt..

I'm pretty good about eating leftovers within a few days -- we generally only get 1-2 sets worth of leftovers when we cook, which would serve as the next 1-2 days lunches. But fruits.. we can definitely do better in eating fruits before they spoil (not that often, but I feel bad every time).

alsoknownasDean

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #44 on: October 14, 2014, 08:34:56 PM »
I tend to figure it's OK for a week. Longest I've gone is nine days for a lamb curry, but IMO that's borderline.

My issue is I tend to cook a large batch, but can only really eat it for two consecutive days, three tops.

I recently cleared out my freezer for a move, so I'll need to refill it :)

VirginiaBob

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #45 on: October 15, 2014, 06:25:04 AM »
Reading the replies here has me scratching my head and asking "why do so many MMM types keep stashes of cooked food in their fridges for days on end?"

If a core belief among MMMers is creating optimal and efficient lives, what's going on here?  Even excluding breakfast and snacks, you've got at least 6 opportunities to input leftovers into your stomach before 3 days* has elapsed.


*i'm of the opinion that there are many foods that could keep longer than three days.  but then you're just wasting money and food, both of which seem very unmustachian.

That is what freezers are for.  If I don't plan to eat something by tomorrow, I usually know that already and it goes in the freezer.

GuitarStv

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #46 on: October 15, 2014, 08:04:31 AM »
Reading the replies here has me scratching my head and asking "why do so many MMM types keep stashes of cooked food in their fridges for days on end?"
(snip)

Because it's extremely efficient to make a large batch of most anything and then eat it over time.  Cooking on a daily basis is much less efficient than large batches.
yeah, I get that, and we love large batch cooking for both economic and time-saving reasons.  I guess our strategy is just to cook a large meal, then portion the leftovers at the end of the meal.  One or two meals go into the fridge for the next day (or two)'s lunch and/or dinner, and the rest gets frozen.  Portioning things out keeps us from overeating, keeps us from wasting food, and gives us a quick-meal choice when work or play keep us from getting home at a reasonable hour (thus saving us from 'take-out emergency' situations).
So.... just my suggestions for people who constantly find themselves throwing out food.
I think anytime you throw away formerly tasty food you shuold give yourself a face-slap.

We typically cook a couple large batches of stuff and then eat them over the week.  Our freezer isn't big enough to hold our frozen stuff plus the large batches once cooked.  Occasionally something in a plastic container makes it's way to the back of the fridge and is found when stuff starts clearing out at the end of the week.  Nearly everything in the fridge gets eaten though, we end up throwing little away with this system.

JoanOfSnark

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #47 on: October 15, 2014, 08:26:52 AM »
a week, if it lasts that long. Generally I'm just likely to see if it smells bad...

We're getting into soup-lunches weather though, so I tend to do a big batch of something over the weekend and freeze 3-4 lunches worth. After a couple of weeks in a row of this and then all through the winter, I have enough vareity to choose from that I'm happy with this method until it gets back into salad-season!

zinnie

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #48 on: October 15, 2014, 08:42:05 AM »
A week for most things, 4 or 5 days for meat.

I have found that we really only had issues with finishing up leftovers when we bought more food than we could eat. If we make a dinner that will last us three meals, we don't cook anything else for dinner until it is gone. Unexpected leftovers like from going out to eat can usually be lunch the next day. Very rarely have I thrown a whole meal out from the fridge because we didn't finish it up in time. Usually it is just small pieces of things that have gone bad, like cilantro that I used all week but didn't quite finish up before it turned brown. We tend to underbuy, so it is usually more a matter of stopping by the store to get more than it is trying to finish up things before they go bad. The latter stresses me out too much! :)

VirginiaBob

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Re: What's your threshold for eating leftovers?
« Reply #49 on: October 15, 2014, 08:57:27 AM »
I did throw out a half a container of macaroni salad the other day.  I paid $2.88 for it, so I probably lost $1.40 or so on that one or $0.14 lost annual retirement salary.  I tend to think of money though as (Money x 1.08^years to retirement) x 0.04 = Retirement income per year.   So for example, if I plan to retire in 12 years, (1.40*1.08^12) x 0.04 = $0.14 cents salary lost on that macaroni salad.  :(