If you have ever wondered about the shelf life of leftover meatloaf in the meat drawer of your fridge, this article is for you.
Meatloaf, a classic comfort food cherished by many throughout the world, is not only delicious but also versatile in its flavors and ingredients.
However, like any perishable food item, proper storage in the fridge is essential to maintain its quality and ensure it remains safe for consumption.
In this article, we will dive into the delicious world of meatloaf and explore the most burning question: How long does meatloaf last in the fridge?
Understanding its shelf life and learning best practices for storage can help you enjoy this hearty dish while minimizing food waste and ensuring your safety.
So, buckle up and let’s delve into the details to ensure your meatloaf stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
How long does meatloaf last in the fridge?
Meatloaf like other perishable foods have high moisture content which makes its life short even in the fridge and more prone to bacterial growth. Properly handled and stored meatloaf (cooked) can last for 3-4 days in the fridge.
Whereas, raw meatloaf has a slightly shorter life and lasts in the fridge for 1-2 days without any significant loss of moisture, texture and taste.
Refrigeration will help to maintain the freshness of meat for an extended period. Also, the low temperatures will inhibit the bacterial growth for a limited time frame.
To maximize the shelf life, it is essential to wrap the meatloaf tightly in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator. This helps prevent exposure to air and moisture which may accelerate spoilage.
How to store meatloaf?
Storing meatloaf in the fridge is a super simple and straightforward process. It is necessary to maintain the freshness and quality of the meatloaf for an extended period. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to store a meatloaf:
- Let the meatloaf cool down: Allow the meatloaf to cool to room temperature after cooking.
- Cut the slices: Cut the meatloaf into individual portions if desired for easier storage and reheating.
- Wrap nicely: Wrap the meatloaf tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, ensuring it is completely covered to prevent exposure to air.
- Optional: Alternatively, place the meatloaf in an airtight container for some extra protection against bacterial growth and exposure to oxygen.
- Labelling: Label the wrapped or containerized meatloaf with the date of preparation to keep the track of freshness and storage period.
- Store the meatloaf: Store the meatloaf in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months for optimal freshness and safety.
- Thawing: When you are ready to enjoy, thaw frozen meatloaf in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
What goes well with meatloaf?
Meatloaf is a versatile ingredient that pairs well with a wide range of sides, sauces, and accompaniments. Here are some popular options that complement meatloaf nicely:
- Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are a delectable choice that adds comfort and texture to your meal. You can opt for traditional mashed potatoes or experiment with variations like garlic mashed potatoes or cheesy mashed potatoes.
- Steamed or Roasted Vegetables: Incorporating vegetables like green beans, carrots, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts in your meal provide a nutritious and colorful addition to your plate. Season them simply with salt, pepper, and olive oil, or add herbs and spices for extra flavor.
- Gravy: A rich gravy made from the drippings of the meatloaf is a delicious way to enhance its flavor. Drizzle it over the meatloaf slices and mashed potatoes for an indulgent touch.
- Salad: A crisp green salad or a fresh fruit salad can balance the richness of the meatloaf with their light and refreshing flavors. Consider dressing your salad with a vinaigrette or creamy dressing for added taste.
- Macaroni and Cheese: Mac and cheese is an amazing side choice. This comforting side dish pairs well with meatloaf, offering a cheesy and creamy contrast to the savory flavors of the main dish.
Can you freeze meatloaf?
Yes, you can freeze meatloaf to extend its shelf life. Freezing meatloaf is a convenient way to preserve leftovers or prepare meals in advance. Frozen meatloaf can last for 3-4 months maximum.
To freeze meatloaf, all you need to do is
- Allow the meatloaf to cool completely after cooking. If raw, you can directly start with the wrapping process.
- Then, wrap the meatloaf tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or place it in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn and maintain its quality.
- You can also slice the meatloaf into individual portions before freezing for easier reheating later.
- Remember to label the package with the date of preparation to keep track of its freshness.
When ready to use, thaw the frozen meatloaf in the refrigerator overnight before reheating it thoroughly to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) to kill any bacteria.
Can you keep meatloaf at room temperature?
Technically, it is possible to keep meatloaf at room temperature for an hour. But it is not a safe practice. You should not keep meatloaf at room temperature for an extended period.
Meatloaf is a perishable food item that contains meat which is prone to bacterial growth when left at room temperature. Bacteria multiply rapidly in the “danger zone” (room temperature), increasing the risk of foodborne illness.
Leaving meatloaf at room temperature for more than two hours can promote bacterial growth and compromise its safety.
Therefore, it is essential to promptly refrigerate or freeze meatloaf after cooking to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and ensure food safety & overall well being.
How to tell if meatloaf has gone bad?
Knowing if the meatloaf has spoiled is crucial for safe consumption and storage. Here are some key signs that may help you indicate if meatloaf has gone bad:
- Appearance: Visually inspect the meatloaf for any signs of mold growth or discoloration. Mold can appear as green, blue, or white patches on the surface of the meatloaf. Discoloration, especially a gray or brown hue can also indicate spoilage.
- Texture: Touch the meatloaf to check its texture. Deteriorated texture is a clear indication. Spoiled meatloaf may feel slimy or overly mushy to the touch. Moreover, any unusual texture changes such as a gritty or grainy sensation can also indicate spoilage.
- Smell: Take a good whiff of the meatloaf. If it emits a foul or unpleasant odor, it’s a clear sign that it has gone bad. Spoiled meatloaf may have a strong, rancid smell that is distinctly different from its usual aroma.
- Taste: If you suspect that your meatloaf may have gone bad but are unsure based on appearance and smell alone, take a small taste. Spoiled meatloaf will have an off or sour taste that is unpleasant and indicative of spoilage.
What happens if you eat spoiled meatloaf?
If you eat spoiled meatloaf, you may risk experiencing foodborne illness commonly known as food poisoning.
Consuming spoiled meatloaf can introduce harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), or Listeria, into your digestive system.
These bacteria can infect your intestines and cause a range of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, and dehydration.
In severe cases, food poisoning from spoiled meatloaf can lead to complications requiring medical attention, especially for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems.
Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize food safety and discard any meatloaf that shows signs of spoilage to avoid the risk of illness.
Can you freeze raw meatloaf with eggs in it?
Yes, you can freeze raw meatloaf that contains eggs. Eggs can be safely frozen as they do not affect the quality and taste of meat. However, you should make sure to mix the eggs thoroughly into the meat mixture before freezing to ensure even distribution.
Is it ok if the meatloaf is a little pink?
No, it is not safe for meatloaf to be pink. A pink color indicates that the meat may not have been cooked to a safe internal temperature and might have bacterial growth, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.
Why is meatloaf always greasy?
Meatloaf can become greasy due to excess fat content in the meat used such as ground beef. Additionally, adding ingredients like eggs or breadcrumbs can contribute to its moisture content, leading to a greasier texture.
Meatloaf is a versatile and delicious dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. When it comes to storing meatloaf, it’s crucial to prioritize food safety to prevent the risk of foodborne illness.
Cooked meatloaf can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days while raw meatloaf should be consumed or frozen within 1 to 2 days.
Proper storage techniques, such as wrapping tightly and refrigerating promptly, are essential to maintain its quality. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy meatloaf safely and deliciously while minimizing food waste.
Patti began her writing career as a staff writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Still based in Florida, Patti serves as editor for Fort Lauderdale on the Cheap. She regularly writes about environmental, home improvement, education, recycling, art, architecture, wildlife, travel and pet topics.