How long can you keep fast food in the fridge?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you keep fast food in the fridge?”, and how to make leftovers last long?

How long can you keep fast food in the fridge?

According to the FDA Food Code, all perishables only last 7 days after preparation or opening. The leftovers should be discarded after 7 days even if the food looks alright. 

Category Food Refrigerator(40 °F or below)Freezer(0 °F or below)
Salads Egg, chicken, ham, tuna, & macaroni salads3-5 daysDoes not freeze well 
Hot dogs Opened packageUnopened package  1 week 2 weeks 1-2 months 1-2 months 
Lunchmeat Opened package or deli-sliced Unopened package 3-5 days 
2 weeks 
1-2 months 
1-2 months 
Bacon and sausage Raw bacon Raw sausage made from chicken, turkey, pork, and beef 7 days 1-2 days 1 month1-2 months 
Hamburger and other ground meats Raw hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, and mixtures of them1-2 days 3-4 months 
Raw beef, veal, lamb, and porkSteaks ChopsRoasts 3-5 days 3-5 days 3-5 days 6-12 months 4-6 months 4-12 months 
Raw poultry Chicken or turkey, whole chicken or turkey, pieces 1-2 days 
1-2 days 
1 year 
9 months 
Soups and stews leftovers Vegetable or meat addedCooked meat or poultry Chicken nuggets or patties Pizza 3-4 days 
3-4 days 
3-4 days 
3-4 days 
2-3 months 
2-6 months 
1-3 months 
1-2 months 

How to make leftover food last longer?

Freezing is the ultimate way to make your leftovers last long. Put a clear label on the freezer bags or air-tight containers before freezing. This helps to keep track of the shelf-life of frozen food. 

Food is frozen at a steady temperature of 0℉ has an indefinite shelf-life. But the frozen food gradually loses its quality over time. So, safety and quality may not always go hand in hand.

Types of leftover foods

Factors like safe preparation, proper storage, and the type of food, determine the shelf-life of the leftovers. 

If the leftovers contain mixed food groups, one should keep track of the most perishable ingredient in the leftovers. For example, the shelf-life of the seafood rice is as long as the shelf-life of the seafood present in it.

Lower risk foods

Fruits and veggies

Properly washed and cut frits won’t last more than 3-5 days in the fridge. The sooner you consume the fresh fruits, the better it is. 

Cooked and canned veggies last about 7-1 days in the fridge unlike the cooked veggies stored in an air-tight container that only keep for 3-7 days in the fridge.

Fruits with a high water content are more perishable than others with relatively less water constant. For example, tomatoes, strawberries, and cucumbers go bad quickly as compared to kale, bananas, and potatoes.


Bread is a low-risk or shelf-stable food commodity. Homemade bread can be safely stored at room temperature for about 3 days. On the other hand, store-bought bread can last 5-7 days in the fridge. 

Medium risk foods

Cooked pasta and grains like barley and quinoa last 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer, if stored correctly. Desserts and sweets should be discarded after 3 days of refrigeration. 

Higher risk foods 

Cooked rice 

Cooked rice, refrigerated within 1 hour of cooking, lasts 3 days. Cooked rice is highly susceptible to spoilage by a spore-producing bacterium called, Bacillus cereus. Eating spoiled or expired rice leads to food poisoning. 

Meat and poultry 

Ground meat and poultry should be properly cooked and then refrigerated below 41°F (5°C). Meat or related products should only be thawed in the fridge. 

Thawed meat can be kept for 1-2 days in the fridge. Opened deli meats and cold deli salads, such as egg, tuna, or chicken salad should be consumed within 3-5 days of opening. 

Shellfish, eggs, soups, stews

Eggs are commonly contaminated with Salmonella. Shellfish and fish are susceptible to histamine contamination. Shellfish, soups, and stews leftovers should be consumed within 3 days of refrigeration. 

Restaurant vs home-cooked meals

The initial freshness of the ingredients used by the restaurant is unknown, therefore, leftovers of the restaurant-cooked meals are best consumed as soon as possible. 

On the other hand, leftovers of the home-cooked meals last 3-4 days in the fridge. Home-cooked or not, leftovers containing raw fish or vegetables consumed within 24 hours.

How to tell whether the food has gone bad?

The presence of mold, discolorations, slime, off-odor, rancidity, off-flavors and is an obvious sign of spoilage. 


In this article, we answered the question “How long can you keep fast food in the fridge?”, and how to make leftovers last long?


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