Have I ever told you the story about that time our family dog ate a better dinner than we did? When I was 10 years old, my grandmother was babysitting my siblings and me while my mother was out of town. While visiting us, my grandma cooked the meats for the week on Sunday evening. We had fried chicken on Monday evening and she was planning to serve pot roast on Tuesday evening. By the time we reached Tuesday, I (in my 10-year-old wisdom) thought we had the pot roast too long and I gave it to the dog. When my grandma came home from work, she was so upset with me. We ended up having hot dogs for dinner that night while the dog was deliriously happy from eating my grandma’s amazing pot roast.
To ensure you don’t make my mistake, I have noted below some guidelines for the length of time you can keep your cooked proteins.
- Let’s start with the cooked roast. To ensure that your roast remains safe and it continues to taste good, refrigerate the roast in a shallow airtight container or be sure to wrap it tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Then, you can store it in the fridge (40°F or less) for up to 3 to 4 days. Now, keep in mind that refrigeration slows down the bacterial growth, but it doesn’t stop it. If you need it to last a little bit longer, freeze it in a covered airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag.
- How long can you keep a cooked turkey in the refrigerator? Your leftover cooked turkey should be able to last in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days, but you want to ensure that the refrigerator is below 40°F, because bacteria can quickly grow when the temperature is between 40°F and 140°F. And, this is nothing to play with — especially since pathogenic bacteria doesn’t always affect the taste, smell, or appearance of your food.
- How long can you keep cooked pork in the fridge? If you keep your leftover cooked pork refrigerated at 40°F or below, you should be able to keep it for up to 4 to 5 days. If the pork begins to smell weird or if it shows signs of spoilage, throw it away.
- How long can you let cooked fish stay in the refrigerator? Your cooked leftover fish should be safe for you to eat for of up to 3 days if you keep it refrigerated at a temperature below 40°F. Personally, I don’t keep leftover fish in the fridge too long because it dries out faster than the other meats mentioned in this post.
For your reference, here are some other key things to know when it comes to storing meats:
- Storage of Uncooked Meat in the Refrigerator: When you bring your uncooked meat home from the store, you can store it in the refrigerator in the packaging that you purchased it in, but it would actually be better if you stored it in an airtight container. And, make sure that the temperature in the fridge is 40°F or less.
- When is 40°F not 40°F? Every refrigerator is different, so I recommend that you use an appliance thermometer to ensure that your fridge is truly set at 40°F (or a little bit chillier). Chris Wooten and I have our refrigerator set at 38°F because we are ALWAYS opening and shutting the refrigerator door.
- Cooked Food at Room Temperature: Your cooked meat really shouldn’t sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. I’m going to be honest with you — I didn’t know that. I am PRETTY SURE I have had some Thanksgiving meals where the meats have been available to guests at room temperature for more than two hours. Thank goodness, no one had to be rushed to the hospital. But you “do better” when you “know better,” so I am updating my food service game plan going forward.
Enjoy your meal!
Love and Soul Always, Kawania