Label your leftovers to increase the chance they will get eaten

pyrex.jpgWith holiday house guests and lots of big meals around the corner, your fridge is about to get a workout. Good timing for this simple leftover tip from Amy:

Since having kids we store more leftovers than ever in the refrigerator. I was getting a little overwhelmed by trying to remember how long everything had been in there. Now each time I open a jar of tomato sauce or pack a container with leftover dinner, I label it with a piece of masking tape marked with the date before putting it in the refrigerator. This has made it so much easier to know what needs to be eaten soon and what needs to be thrown out.

I’d also include the name of the item on the label — I find that when people can see, at a glance, what’s hiding in those containers, it’s more likely to get eaten.

Do you have any good leftover management tips?

Related: Schedule when to use your freezer leftovers


  1. says

    If you can’t be bothered with masking tape, put a dry erase board on the door of your fridge and keep track of the leftovers there.

  2. says

    For some reason my husband cannot be bothered with heating up leftovers from a single meal if they are all in different containers. Somehow, the act of transfering meatloaf, potatoes and corn to a plate and then putting the plate in the microwave is just too much work. To make it more likely that the leftovers will get eaten, I bought some multiple compartment tupperware, and fill each up with a meals worth of food, that way all my husband has to do is take the lid off, stick it in the microwave and eat.

  3. Ghanimatrix says

    You can also skip the masking tape and just use dry erase markers directly on the containers themselves.

  4. says

    Another fridge rule: nothing goes in front of finger-fruit. We found, several times this summer, rotting grapes or strawberries that got pushed behind the leftovers.

  5. Alex says

    I totally do this with the painter’s tape I use to tape paper down for toddler art projects! Most stuff is good for 5 days. Pasta & some veg I keep a week.

    I got a BUNCH of those 2 cup pyrex containers. You can see into it, and it is good for one adult serving or 1 kind of toddler snacks. It’s nice to eat right out of. You can heat them without worrying about plastic toxic weirdness, you can freeze them, they can be washed in the bottom of our dishwasher, and they stack wonderfully. I lose less stuff in the fridge since I standardized our storage. I’m not that into kitchen stuff, but I tell everyone who is getting married to register for these.

  6. marci says

    yes to the compartmented plates! as we’re cleaning up, if there’s a dab of something that’s not enough for another serving for everyone at another meal, it goes on a compartment plate. when they have a full meal, they go in the freezer. then i take them to work (have to take lunch, few other options, but that’s ok since i like leftovers).

    what’s up with people who ‘won’t eat leftovers’??

  7. Jackie says

    I have a notepad on our fridge and I write down what I put in there and next to it, the date I want to throw it out. I give almost everything a week to a week and a half depending on what it is. That way we can see without even opening the fridge what is in there and if we are debating between a couple of things, we take the one that will be thrown away sooner. I also have a whole shelf in the fridge just for leftovers so things don’t get shoved to the back (like fruit, etc). Easy to do with a side-by-side fridge, probably not so much with a top/bottom.