Food Safety: How to Store & Use Leftover Spaghetti | #24CarrotDiet | pasta | meal planning on a budget | food storage

Food Storage: How Long Can You Keep Leftover Spaghetti in the Fridge?

Leftover spaghetti is pretty common in our house. We’ll add a bit of extra pasta to the pot, knowing it will be too much, just to “finish up the bag.” Or we’ll cook a large amount, expecting everyone to be hungry, and then the kids will end be late getting in from cadets and only eat half a portion. In a large family, it’s easy to end up with too much pasta in the pot. But we try never to let it go to waste.

So what do we do with leftover spaghetti? Usually we just store the leftovers in the fridge. We always make a big batch of spaghetti sauce, so we can easily use the leftover spaghetti and sauce for a quick lunch the following day. It can be an easy supper for a few days later when we know we’re going to busy. Or we can make up frozen pasta meals in a bag.

Food Safety: How to Store & Use Leftover Spaghetti | #24CarrotDiet | pasta | meal planning on a budget | food storage
Is that leftover spaghetti in your fridge still safe?


Is it Safe to Eat Leftover Spaghetti?

My husband had to drive into the city yesterday. I had planned to cook a lovely blade roast for supper, but he and the kids were a lot longer in town than expected, so we decided to have leftover spaghetti for supper instead. Then today, I got a message from my friend, asking if the cooked spaghetti she’d saved earlier in the week would still be good.

Do you ever wonder if the cooked pasta sitting in your fridge is still safe to eat? Health Canada suggests that leftover foods should be eaten within 2-3 days. If you don’t think you’ll eat leftover spaghetti within the first few days, freeze it for later. This will keep it safe for about 2-4 months.



How to Store Leftover Spaghetti

For cooked pasta to stay safe in the fridge, you need to cool and store it properly. Be sure to cool leftover spaghetti quickly and get it into the fridge as fast as possible. This will ensure your leftovers are food safe, and will keep your noodles tasting fresh longer.

Always put leftover food in shallow containers so it will cool quickly. If it’s still hot, leave it on the counter until it stops steaming. Then put the container in the fridge without a lid, and leave it just until the food is at the temperature of the fridge. Now it’s safe to put the lid on. Cooling your leftover spaghetti this way helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, and fungi that could make your family sick.

Portion Sizes

It’s best to split food up into several containers if it won’t fit into a shallow one. Avoid stacking the containers while food is cooling. In fact, try to distribute multiple containers evenly around the fridge to facilitate prompt cooling.

You can store your leftover spaghetti in a freezer bag instead of a rigid container. Just be sure the pasta is no longer steaming before you add it to the bag. Don’t overload the bag; use two or more bags if necessary. Leave the bags open while the noodles are cooling in the fridge.

Whether you are using a bag or a rigid container, be sure to label you leftover spaghetti. Include the date, to eliminate any guesswork later. If you are only saving a small amount of leftover spaghetti, think about adding it to a school lunch or bringing it to work with you. If there’s enough leftover pasta for a full meal, be sure to include it in your meal plan. Planning to use leftovers saves you time and money, and it can help ensure you’re eating cooked pasta before it spoils.



Freezing Leftover Spaghetti

Starchy foods tend to get mushy and sticky in the freezer. I prefer to use leftover pasta quickly, or to freeze it with the sauce. It holds up better to the colder temperatures of the freezer this way.

The best way to freeze leftover spaghetti is to mix it into the sauce, though you can also thoroughly coat it with the sauce. Either way, store it in bags or containers intended for the freezer. I like to use single-serving foil containers that can be reheated in the oven. Pyrex or Corning dishes that have snap on lids are also a good choice, especially if you’re storing enough pasta for a family meal. As always, label your leftover spghetti and remember to include the date!

Be sure to cool the noodles well before putting them in the freezer. Leave them out at room temperature until they are no longer steaming. Lower the temperature even more in the fridge, with the lid off or the bag unzipped, until the pasta is cool enough to transfer to the freezer.



Reheating Leftover Spaghetti

The easiest way to reheat cooked noodles is to pop them into a pot of boiling water. This method will help you ensure the noodles reach the temperature of 74ºC (165ºF) that’s recommended for safe eating of leftover foods. If you’ve stored the pasta in the fridge, just add the noodles to boiling water long enough to heat through, and then drain and serve as you normally would.

If you use leftover spaghetti to make frozen pasta meals in a bag, the easiest way to defrost them is in the fridge. Take the bags out of the freezer 1-2 days ahead of time. Place the bags in a container, in case of leaks. Keep the container towards the front of the fridge where it’s warmer. I usually just defrost my freezer meals at the front of the bottom shelf.

You can also defrost leftover spaghetti in the microwave or in a container of cold water. Keep a close eye on your leftovers if you choose these methods. I recommend you only use the microwave method as a last resort, as it can be difficult to evenly defrost food without cooking it. Frozen noodles, in particular, don’t hold up well to this kind of defrosting that uses heat and requires stirring.

Only reheat what you will eat right away. Don’t attempt to keep any food from a meal of reheated leftover spaghetti, or any food that’s already been stored for some time. The cycle of cooling, reheating, and cooling again tends to promote the growth of organisms that cause foodborne illness. It’s not food safe to make leftovers from your leftovers. This is another reason to always store leftovers in smaller containers. It allows you to keep leftover pasta and other foods safe, and to only reheat enough for a single meal at a time.

5 Cool Ways to Serve Leftover Spaghetti

    • If you love lasagna, make a baked spaghetti casserole;
    • Bake the noodles into spaghetti nests – either with the sauce and cheese or made with garlic and herbs, and then topped with meatballs or baby bocconcini;
    • Serve the pasta cold in a refreshing spaghetti salad;
    • Stir fry the noodles and add vegetables and meat to make a quick chow mein substitute;
    • Use the pasta to make Mason jar “Ramen” noodles that you can take to work or school.

No matter how you plan to enjoy your leftover spaghetti, be sure to store it safely. For foods like the spaghetti nests or Mason jar noodles, make small batches so you’ll be sure you can use them all up within 3 days.


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Original content © 2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Public domain images by Pixabay users Divily, congerdesign, RitaE, PDPics, stevepb

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

I am not a nutrition expert or health professional. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Please seek out a licensed health professional as needed. For more information, see the health disclaimer linked in the sidebar.

Leftover Spaghetti: How Long Can you Store it Safely in the Fridge?
Article Name
Leftover Spaghetti: How Long Can you Store it Safely in the Fridge?
Is that leftover spaghetti in your fridge still safe? Learn how to store cooked pasta safely, and how long you can keep it in the fridge or freezer. Check out some great ideas for using it up, too!
Kyla Matton Osborne
24 Carrot Diet
24 Carrot Diet
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4 thoughts on “Food Storage: How Long Can You Keep Leftover Spaghetti in the Fridge?”

  1. This is excellent advice for storing leftover spaghetti. I have often done this and warmed the cold spaghetti noodles up in the microwave while heating the leftover sauce on the stove. I never knew you could warm them up in boiling water. Good to know.

    1. I’ve mostly warmed the noodles and sauce together in the microwave, usually in single portions. I’m not sure I’d want to use the microwave for a larger amount of cold pasta, though, especially if it’s been refrigerated a few days and is quite cold.

      The only thing you have to watch with warming noodles in boiling water is overcooking them. It has to be done fast, otherwise the pasta gets mushy.

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