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Don’t Stretch the Food Dollar Too Much…


My husband will, for the most part, eat anything I put in front of him. This ‘gift’ is generally bestowed only on newly married men who are still starry eyed over their freshly minted wives, but my man never seemed to grow out of it… thank God.

I told you I picked a good one.

But believe it or not, this can be a problem. My husband attends night school and at times, we barely cross paths before he has to leave for class. In the past, he would buy food at school. But on our debt reduction plan, this isn’t an option anymore. Instead, he plays what I like to call…’Refrigerator Russian Roulette.’

He opens the door, grabs a Tupperware, and eats whatever is inside regardless of age or smell.

I am not a fan of this game.

I am in favor of stretching food dollars but I have limits. Sometimes I will walk in the front door and catch him eating a dinner I made more than a week earlier. When I tell him he shouldn’t eat old food, he replies, ‘It smelled only slightly bad… and it’s free.’

At times (not often – I swear he has an iron stomach), I’ll find him reclined on the couch. ‘Something didn’t sit right’ he groans. And I lovingly reply ‘Perhaps the 5 week old pot roast?’

I love the man but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if his dedication to become debt free borders on the fanatical.

If you struggle with the same man I do, or perhaps you see that person in the mirror, read this article from the Mayo Clinic. You’ve got 4 days to eat those leftovers. Any time past that isn’t healthy – even if it is ‘free’.


  • Reply Marie |

    Write a date on the containers that you put it in the fridge or date it for when its expired. I do this using masking tape.

    If you go by the expired date use the day of the week since most people know its Tuesday but might not know its the 27th.

  • Reply T |

    While I don’t know that I would buy into not eating food if it’s four days old or older, it does sound like you two need to put a fridge clean-out on your weekend to-do list!

    It would be better to be able to plan it so you eat everything you make (or plan smaller meals), but not eating exceptionally old foods is a start. Remind him that one visit to a doctor might well wipe out all the savings he gains from eating that free food.

  • Reply Nichole@40daysof |

    I have the opposite problem. He’ll eat leftovers for one night, but at two he starts complain and question the safety of the food. This can be a problem, since some recipes are too big for just two people.


  • Reply Angie |

    I agree with T. Perhaps you should freeze more leftovers, which would help them keep longer. One trip to the ER with food poisoning is not worth it! As someone who’s been there, believe me!

  • Reply Nicole |

    Ooooh, I’ll print out that article and show it to my husband! He’ll eat things that are a week old just so it doesn’t go to waste. I make sure to throw stuff out every Monday to avoid this. I also make every Thursday leftover night. It works really well!

  • Reply emmi |

    Dry erase marker works well for date writing, as does a bic pen and a roll of masking tape kept handy. Sweep through the fridge every two days for stuff that needs to go into the freezer.

    4 days sounds really short. Our fridge is kept at 35° (but the top shelf is 40°) and I’ve never had trouble with a 7 day rule, and I have a very wimpy stomach so I really really would know. Except for leftover fish stuff. That has a 2 day rule for us unless we brined and hot smoked it ourselves, then it can go more like a week (like that’s a rule that never comes in to play…).

    I also cheat after making big batches of something stewish or beanish that has to get us through the week so I don’t really want to portion and freeze it. If it’s been 3 days I just reboil the whole batch for 10 minutes, serve some of it, and then put it back in the fridge. I’ve never had trouble treating that as a full reset on the storage clock.

  • Reply T |

    My computer is parked practically right next to our free-standing freezer. Why didn’t I think to suggest freezing some of these leftovers?

    Anyway, all of the suggestions to freeze some of these leftovers are also excellent ideas.

    Also, have you considered cookbooks for two? I have “Healthy Cooking for Two (or Just You)”, and I really like it. Some of the recipes show that she used to run a restaurant, and so the portion sizes are bigger than even just for two (I think so, anyway), but it’s still smaller portions than you’d get with many other recipes.

    I have an older version than this one, but I’d imagine it’s still good (if not better!). Poke around at some garage sales or the library even and see if you can find it.


  • Reply Susan |

    My husband doesn’t even want to eat a leftover until about 4 days later, whereas I am the type to eat it right away (If I like something, I like it!). I give things the smell test. We also get the leftovers into the fridge right away and only reheat what we are going to eat at that meal.

  • Reply Stephan |

    definitely use the freezer more, i usually cook a few large meals in advance and freeze them for the week. Also, maybe teach him how to cook simple meals himself. A quick chicken stir fry is SO easy to make, quick, and cheap. He can add whatever vegies he wants, and its healthy too!

  • Reply Deby |

    A couple of years ago I invested in some really good tupperware that really helps to prolong the life of leftovers. I’ve opened up containers a week later that were just as good as the day they were saved. I also go thru the ‘frig every week or so and empty out whatever looks questionable. Of course, with two teenage boys and a BF who will eat practically anything (despite most definately NOT having a cast iron stomach), leftovers aren’t much of an issue.


  • Reply Michael |

    Wow, your husband is definitely tougher then I am. I stay away from anything that’s been in the fridge for more then two days, regardless of what the package says, I’m even shy of lunch meat opened but refrigerated!

So, what do you think ?