If you’ve been wondering how long you can keep cooked vegetables in the fridge before they go bad and enjoy eating healthy foods, you need to know the answer to this question.
The chances of cooked vegetables going bad are incredibly high if they are stored for too long, as they become the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Even if you keep vegetables in the fridge, they can only last for so long before spoilage kicks in.
So, read on to brush up your knowledge on general food preservation guidelines, specifically those for all kinds of cooked veggies. We will also be sharing a bonus vegan recipe that will help you put your cooked veggies to good use, so keep reading!
FDA-Approved Food Storage Guidelines
The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S routinely publishes a comprehensive set of guidelines to help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. According to the FDA, the most common cause of food-related diseases is storing foods at the wrong temperature. So, you need to know the correct time duration and temperature at which to store cooked vegetables in the fridge.
To save time, we have summarized the essential FDA guidelines here:
- First, refrigerate perishable goods like fruits and vegetables as soon as possible. Fresh produce, especially leafy greens, can wilt if left outside the fridge for more than two hours, so refrigerate raw vegetables as soon as you get home from grocery shopping.
- Ensure your fridge is set at a temperature below 40° F (4° C). Use the internal thermostat to control the temperature. Use an appliance thermometer to ensure that the inside is consistently below 40° F. Appliance thermometers are inexpensive and can be bought online or at the nearest supermarket.
- Pathogenic bacteria are often found on the surface of fresh fruit and vegetables. The produce may look fresh without any discoloration or unpleasant smell, but pathogens will silently grow on the surface. The only way to slow down the multiplication of pathogenic organisms is to keep vegetables in the fridge.
- All food, including leftover vegetables, must be stored in airtight containers.
- Cooked vegetables must always be stored in the fridge to prevent the spread of Bacillus cereus. The vegetables can become unfit for consumption if left outside because the bacteria can cause diarrhea and infection.
How Long Can You Keep Cooked Vegetables in the Fridge?
Generally, cooked vegetables have a lot more moisture than raw vegetables, making them more prone to bacterial infections. Also, vegetables with high water content, such as tomatoes, are prone to going bad faster. So, how long can you keep cooked vegetables in the fridge? If prepped the right way, the simple answer is that they can be stored safely in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
However, the storage times can vary depending on the cooking method. If you want to store cooked vegetables for longer, we recommend freezing them in sealed zip lock bags. Most cooked produce will easily last 10-12 months in the freezer. Check out the storage time for vegetables prepared in different ways:
Boiled vegetables can last for 3-7 days in the refrigerator if kept in a tightly lidded container. However, according to the FDA, boiled vegetables must be discarded after seven days even if they show no signs of going bad.
Keeping boiled vegetables beyond seven days is dangerous because mold can increase on the vegetables, affecting their taste and quality. Furthermore, store-bought steamed or boiled vegetables can only last in the fridge for 48-72 hours, which means they should be consumed within two days of purchase.
Roasted vegetables can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days if properly stored. However, we recommend cooling the roasted vegetables to room temperature before putting them in the refrigerator. Cooling them down to room temperature helps stop the steaming so that moisture does not build up when you put them in the fridge.
Bacteria love moisture, so make sure your roasted veggies are not steaming when you put them in. Of course, your first choice should be an airtight container, but you can also pop the veggies in a bowl and cover them with aluminum foil or saran wrap if you do not have a container.
Pickled vegetables can last in the fridge for between 2-5 months. Homemade vegetables pickled in vinegar can last for two months with proper care and do not require canning. Sterilize the glass jars before filling them with the vinegar and pickle mixture, then cool the jar to room temperature. Immediately place it in the refrigerator so that it stays fresh.
Store-bought fermented vegetables like kimchi can last in the fridge for 6-12 months if they are refrigerated right after purchase. The same goes for Indian pickles and sauerkraut (pickled cabbage).
Cooked canned vegetables can be stored for slightly longer than other cooked produce. You can keep them in the fridge for 7-10 days, but do not keep them in the same can as the one they came in.
Transfer the cooked, canned vegetables to a small container with a tight lid to keep them safe from bacteria. Check the canned vegetables every day to spot any signs of decay and throw them out after ten days to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
Alternatively, you can freeze canned vegetables in a sealed plastic bag and set the freezer to 0° F (-18° C). The frozen vegetables should last for about two months.
How to Store Cooked Vegetables in the Fridge?
All cooked food, including vegetables, must be stored in airtight containers or sealed zip lock bags. The containers must be made of food-grade plastic and should be BPA-free. High-quality containers will also be leak-proof and will not absorb the flavor or smell of the prepared vegetables.
They must also have sturdy lock tabs to keep the food safely packed to prevent cross-contamination. Finally, we would recommend getting the containers with a built-in write and erase lid so that you can note down the date you put the container in the fridge.
This will help you keep track of how long your cooked vegetables have been sitting in the fridge so that you can throw them out if they have been in the refrigerator for more than five days.
Also, make sure you do not store your cooked vegetables near ethylene-producing fruits like peaches or apples. The gas given off by these fruits can cause darkening in ethylene-sensitive vegetables like eggplant and broccoli. So, keep the ethylene-producing fruits in a separate section of your fridge and away from your cooked vegetables.
Meal Prep Made Easy
Storing a box of cooked vegetables in the fridge can make meal prep easier by cutting down on cooking time. It is also an excellent way to include more vegetarian options in your diet, such as this vegan recipe below:
Bonus Recipe: Cassava Casserole
Brown one pound of ground beef in a large pot. Then add in one diced onion and sauté it until tender. Next, add two cups of peeled cassava root, crushed tomatoes, and kidney beans. Cook until the cassava is tender, and then finish it off in the oven for half an hour before serving.
Note that cooked cassava can be stored in the fridge for up to 7 days, so you can safely refrigerate your casserole leftovers and enjoy them any time in the week!
FAQs: Food Storage Essentials
Proper storage can help your food last longer and taste just as fresh as when you cooked it. Here are some of the most frequent queries regarding cooked veggies:
A good rule of thumb is to store cooked vegetables for 3-5 days. Only pickled goods can survive for two months if homemade and 12 months if store-bought. Never keep vegetables past their expiration date as the risk of foodborne illness increases with time.
Cooked vegetables, including salad greens, must be stored in an airtight container that is leak-proof and BPA-free. It must also have secure lock tabs on all four sides.
The lid should have an erasable section to note down the date and time of storage. Use a food-safe marker to write on the containers before putting them in the fridge.
You can freeze canned food and vegetables in a zip lock bag for two months. Ensure that the freezer is set to 0° F (-18° C), and regularly monitor the temperature with an appliance thermometer.
Beet soup can be stored in the fridge for three days and must be discarded once that time has passed. Cooked beets should always be stored in a sealed and airtight container.
Discoloration, spots, and unpleasant smells are the first signs that your cooked vegetables have gone bad. If a slimy film develops on delicate greens, such as lettuce or other vegetables, dispose of them immediately
To sum up, the answer to how long you can keep cooked vegetables in the fridge is 3-5 days. We hope you will store your veggies according to the instructions given above and incorporate them into many different recipes for a happy and healthy lifestyle! So, what are you waiting for? Clean out your fridge today.