Most leftovers last four days in the fridge, but do you really remember whether that takeaway is from Friday or from Saturday? And here are the meatballs from yesterday — or wait, are they from the batch you made last week? Get in the habit of dating your food, and you can stop wondering.
All you have to do is write today’s date on any leftovers that go into the fridge. After four days, you know it’s time to toss. For food that comes in a sealed package, write the date you opened the package.
I even date food that I know is going to last a while, like condiments. StillTasty tells us that mayo is good for two to three months after opening, but when the heck did I open that half-used jar? If I wrote the date on the lid (with the year!) then I automatically know.
To be clear, we are writing today’s date, not an expiration date. Save your StillTasty lookups for the day you’re puzzling over your food. If you mean to calculate the date first, you’ll put it off and pretty soon you’ll have a fridge full of undated food.
And to be extra, extra clear, this is unrelated to the expiration date on the package. Expiration dates apply to unopened food. I have almond milk in the cabinet that doesn’t expire until sometime next year, but if I open it today, I have seven to 10 days to drink it.
How To Label Your Food
This subject generated considerable disagreement among the Lifehacker staff, but bottom line, all of these will work:
- With a Sharpie. Yes, even on reusable containers — a scrubby dish sponge will wash the ink right off.
- With a dry-erase marker.
- With masking tape or blue painter’s tape, and then you write on that with pen or a Sharpie.
- Lab tape, if you have a way to get some. It unsticks easily, even after going through the dishwasher, and you can write on it with anything, even pencil. This is the holy grail of kitchen labelling, in my opinion, although it’s been years since I’ve had access to any labs to swipe it from. (I now use masking tape or the Sharpie-only method.)
Whatever you choose, make sure your labelling method is always within arm’s reach when you’re putting things away in the fridge. Glue a magnet to your Sharpie’s cap, or keep your supplies in that handy kitchen junk drawer.