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How Long Is Food Really Good For In The Refrigerator?

Jar Spaghetti Sauce
Jar Spaghetti Sauce

I know my family (specifically my mother) will be mortified to find out that I use jar sauce at all instead of making my own. In my defense, I only really use jarred sauce if I’m making homemade pizza because it’s easier and faster.

The jars you see above are still in my refrigerator, and I was curious if they were still good. I know at least one isn’t! They are just marinara sauce — the bottom jar said it’s good until 2015, and there is no meat in any of them! I thought I had at least 3-4 weeks to use them…but I was VERY wrong!

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to refrigerator food. Just because there is an expiration date on the package, that doesn’t mean the food is good until that date once you open it. A new clock starts when you open food and place it in the fridge! Take a sharpie and mark when you open an item so you don’t have to guess when you opened it.

Here are some other things you need to know about the life of food in your refrigerator:

1- Spaghetti Sauce – I thought I had a couple of weeks for sauce, but the reality is that you only have about a week to use the sauce once it’s opened! Mold grows in moist environments, so even though you can’t see the mold, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there!

2- Condiments – Most things you can go by the date on the package — ketchup, mustard, butter, salad dressing…but not when it comes to mayonnaise. With mayo, you don’t have to worry about mold because it has a high fat content, but it is an egg product, and the oils break down over time, so the flavor changes. For mayo you should toss it after two months of opening it.

3- Leftovers – My mom has always told me five days for leftovers that have meat in them, but if it’s just vegetables, then you have seven days. The safe rule of thumb for leftovers is to get them in the refrigerator no more than two hours after they were served, and then it’s only good for 3-4 days. When it comes to large items like a casserole or lasagna, you should separate the food out in shallow containers so it cools evenly, and then refrigerate or freeze it.

4- Baby Food – Don’t feed your baby out of the jar if you plan to save part of the food in the refrigerator. Always put the baby food in a bowl, and then serve your child from that. When you feed a baby out of the jar, you are leaving the baby’s saliva in the jar, and bacteria can grow. To refrigerate baby food, make sure the jar is covered, and if it is just fruits or vegetables, it is good for up to three days. If the food is a cooked meat or meat/veggie combo, it is only good for 1-2 days at most.

How Long Are Other Things Good For In The Fridge?

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