Pasta is a family favorite meal. Often made in big portions, leftovers frequently result. Once everyone gets their fill and you’re left with a heaping pot of spaghetti and meatballs, you scoop it into a resealable container and pop it into the fridge. There, it awaits your rumbling midday belly to reheat for lunch. However, you wonder whether that tupperware of pasta from last week is still safe to eat.
How long does spaghetti and meatballs last in the fridge? When stored properly in airtight containers below 40°F, spaghetti and meatballs last for 3 to 4 days.
The most perishable element of spaghetti and meatballs is the meat. While spaghetti lasts up to potentially 5 days when stored in the refrigerator, the addition of meat shrinks that timeline by a day. This is because meat invites bacteria earlier than the pasta noodles or the sauce.
However, don’t take that to mean you can toss the meatballs and eat the spaghetti. Since the meatballs sat in the sauce and the spaghetti noodles, those become contaminated, as well. Bacteria spreads easily to anything touching the original contaminated food item. So, if you think the leftovers straddle the edge between safe for spaghetti and unsafe for meat, don’t chance it. It might be better to just order lunch today.
To extend the shelf life of your leftovers, freezing them allows you to stave off bacterial growth indefinitely. Frozen food items remain safe from harmful bacteria so long as they stay in the freezer. Once thawed in the fridge, the timeline restarts and you have 3 to 4 days to eat it.
However, the important thing to note when freezing spaghetti and meatballs is the quality of the dish. It drops off substantially the longer it remains. After 3 to 4 months, your leftovers lose their delicious flavor. So, freezing spaghetti and meatballs does keep your leftovers from spoiling, but might end up spoiling the experience.
The signs of spoilage reveal themselves in visual, smelly, and slimy ways. Obviously, mold growth clearly indicates your leftovers spoiled. However, they often spoil before mold appears. Open your container and give it the sniff test. If you smell an ammonia like scent or any fowl odor, time to toss those leftovers. Likewise, you can turn them over and see if they’ve become slimy. That’s also a clear sign they’ve gone bad.
How long does opened pasta sauce last in the fridge?
Tomato based pasta sauces generally keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Once opened, a jar should be stored in the fridge before it has sat out for 2 hours. Any longer, and it’s already bad. Note, however, that the addition of meat, including premixes you buy at the store, cuts this by a day. Pasta sauce with any meat lasts up to only 4 days in the fridge.
Eating any spoiled food brings with it the risk of contracting a food borne illness. Food poisoning results in gastrointestinal issues that cause vomiting, and diarrhea. If symptoms worsen or last longer than a day, consult a doctor.