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Have you ever been tempted to throw out leftover food from a meal? The answer is probably, yes, but you can save that food for another meal!

It can be really intimidating to try to determine how long you can store leftover food in the fridge – especially when it comes to meat.

However, you can easily save on your food budget and eat leftovers with a little knowledge and planning.

If you’ve ever wondered how to store cooked meat in the fridge, you’re in the right place.

When to put cooked meat in the fridge?

The first rule of storing leftovers is to practice prompt storage techniques.

This means that you should put meat in the fridge as soon as possible. 

Though it’s super tempting to move on to fun activities or take a nap directly after the meal, make sure that the food is put away first!

As soon as meat is cool enough so that you can comfortably tough the outside of the container, you should put it into the refrigerator.

The longer meat sits out on the counter, the more bacteria grows. 

Bacteria can be hazardous for your health, so you want to limit this as much as possible.

Storing and cooking food at the correct temperature ensures that it is safe to eat.

Immediately storing meat in the fridge is imperative for preserving it as long as possible. Do not delay!

How to store cooked meat in the fridge?

Always store meat in the fridge in an airtight container, such as the Komax Hikips Food Storage Containers (view at Amazon). This helps keep meat fresh and prevents it from drying out.

Have you ever put a grilled chicken breast or pork chop in the fridge only to find it dried up like a piece of wood the next day? 

That doesn’t sound very appetizing for a leftover lunch, does it.

To prevent this from happening, store meat in the smallest container possible, and make sure that it is tightly sealed. 

Hard plastic and glass containers with matching lids work well for this.

Avoid storing meat wrapped solely in foil or plastic. This allows air to seep in and dry out your food.

Plus, this can also let liquid run into other parts of your refrigerator, contamination them.

You want to avoid a messy, sticky fridge, right?

Also, store meat in liquid if possible. If you have leftover sauce, go ahead and put it on the meat! 

This will help keep the meat juicy and prevent it from drying out.

Be sure that your fridge is at least 5 degrees Celsius or cooler to stop the growth of bacteria.

Pro tip: If you store meat in a microwaveable container, you have a ready-made lunch!

How long does cooked meat stay good in the fridge?

This is where storing cooked meat gets tricky: how do you know when meat expires?

This actually depends on the type of meat that you want to store. 

  • Poultry — You can store poultry in the fridge for 3-4 days before it goes bad. Poultry includes chicken, turkey, duck and other fowl. While some people think it’s safe to eat chicken that’s been in the fridge for a week, it’s better to err on the side of caution at the 4 day mark.
  • Pork and red meat — Pork and red meat give you a little more room to work. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days! Remember, always use caution when storing cooked meat. If it smells bad, it probably is!
  • Ground meat — Unfortunately, ground meat does not last very long in the fridge. You really need to eat it within a day or two of putting it in the refrigerator. The increased surface area is a breeding ground for bacteria, and you want to be safe!
  • Processed meats — Where do things like hot dogs fall on the spectrum? As you probably expected, you can keep these in the fridge for even longer. Lunch meat and hot dogs can last for a couple of weeks in the fridge unopened, but you should eat them within a week after opening the package.

What to do if your meat is in danger of going bad

If you are concerned that your meat is close to its expiration date, don’t feel like you have to eat it all right away! You have options.

Save it in the freezer.

That’s right, you can freeze cooked meat, too! If your meat is ready to expire, simply put it in a freezer bag and freeze it before it reaches the point of no return.

Then, you can pull it out on a night when you’re just not feeling a lot of time in the kitchen.

Freezing meat can really be a lifesaver!

Find creative ways to make a meal.

Have you ever realized that you have a lot of meat that’s about to go bad in the fridge? You do not have to panic!

In fact, this may be a really great time to clean out the rest of your fridge! Look around and see what else may be close to going bad.

See what you can put together! Can you make an interesting pizza? How about a new rice dish? Or, could you combine ingredients for a delectable stir fry? 

The possibilities are endless!

Featured image credit: Shutterstock.com Image ID: 1875957067 (NOTE: Image does not feature approaches discussed in article)