Clean Out Your Refrigerator

Leftovers in refrigerator

November 15: Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

When in doubt, throw it out! To keep your family safe, keep leftovers for only three to four days in the refrigerator. Label condiments with the date you open them. Below is a list of how long they can last.

  • Olives: 2 weeks
  • Taco Sauce: 1 month
  • Barbeque Sauce: 4 months
  • Ketchup: 6 months
  • Pickles: 1–3 months
  • Soy Sauce: 1 month
  • Horseradish: 3–4 months
  • Mayonnaise: 1–2 months
  • Relish: 9 months
  • Worcestershire Sauce: 1 year
  • Hot sauce: 6 months
  • Mustard: 1 year
  • Salad dressing: 1–3 months
  • Jams/Jelly: 6 months to 1 year


November 29: Throw Out Your Leftovers Day

This is a good reminder to either eat or freeze Thanksgiving leftovers within three to four days. To handle leftovers safely, use the following guidelines:

  1. Refrigerate food within two hours after cooking to keep it safe.
  2. Eat or freeze leftovers within four days.
  3. Use labels or masking tape and a black marker to write dates on food for the refrigerator or freezer. If you label leftovers in the refrigerator with the four-day-later date, you will see right away the last day you can safely eat them.
  4. Use Food Safety Charts,, to learn how long food can be safely stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
  5. Learn more about leftover food,

Source: UNL,

Leftovers Don’t Last Forever

leftoversSometimes “leftover night” can be a fun game of take-your-pick for dinner! However, it might not end up so enjoyable if the food is no longer safe to eat. Follow these tips for safe leftovers:

  • Set your refrigerator temperature at 40°F or below. When storing hot foods, store them in shallow containers no more than 2” deep, so that the food cools to 41°F (or lower) quickly.
  • Follow the “4-Day Throw Away” rule: if the leftovers are not eaten on the fourth day after storing, throw them away! Download the 4-day Throw Away app at for your smartphone.
  • Leave a pen and sticky notes near the fridge. Label leftovers with the date when you prepared them.
  • Make a “use-up” list. List the leftovers you have in the refrigerator and the freezer. Post it on your fridge. Create meal combinations to use up the leftovers while they are still safe to eat.

Sources: ISU Extension and Outreach Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website,

ISU Extension and Outreach Food Safety website,

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