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Mac and cheese – the epitome of comfort food for us all. As did all the best pasta dishes, macaroni and cheese originated in Italy. Although it was traditionally made using parmesan, like many other meals, America eventually altered the classic version to up the calorie count but also boost the flavor, and then they decided to pop it in a box.
As a dish commonly used to serve at parties, or, when using the boxed type, it works as a quick and easy late-night meal, usually people don’t have much leftovers. However, when our eyes are too big for our stomachs and we have lots of leftovers, does mac and cheese stay edible when saved for a later date? And if you do find an unused box stashed at the back of your cupboard, how long before it is too late to eat it? As we know, cheese, like all dairy products, doesn’t tend to last long. So, today, I am going to look at whether this is still the case when it is thrown into a batch of mac and cheese.
When looking at how long mac and cheese lasts, it ultimately depends on if it is freshly made mac and cheese or if it is in a box and has not yet been used.
Your typical, unopened cheese can last between two to four months. However, when opened and mixed in with butter, milk and cream, your freshly-made mac and cheese can last around three to five days if wrapped properly and refrigerated.
Although it may be drier in texture than when it was fresh, the way to really tell if your mac and cheese has gone bad is by the appearance and smell. If the dish has an unpleasant, sour scent, or if it has visible mold around the outside, then the mac and cheese needs to go straight in the bin. Although you typically would not get seriously sick from this, it would be a very unpleasant experience and may leave you with a dodgy stomach.
Below are some top tips on how to enjoy your fresh mac and cheese for longer:
- Seal your mac and cheese in an air-tight Tupperware and store in the refrigerator and it should be edible for up to five days.
- Mix in some fresh milk when you reheat it so that it doesn’t taste as dry.
- Store in an air-tight Tupperware and pop it in the freezer if you want to enjoy it for up to 2 months later!
On the other hand, if you are working with boxed mac and cheese then this is a different story. Packeted mac and cheese usually comes with a best-by-date, which ideally you should try to stick to. However, if the box is stored at room temperature, remains shut, and has had no moisture sneak into it, your boxed pasta should be good for as long as two years before you should consider binning it! This can be for up to a year beyond its best-by-date, but after that it should go in the trash.
However, if you have opened and used the boxed mac and cheese, the same steps as those for homemade mac and cheese apply. Similarly, there are various ways to help the prepared mac and cheese last for up to five days, and if you freeze it, it can be safe for up to a couple of months!
Overall, try to eat any form of cooked mac and cheese as close to the preparation as possible. This is more so to keep the delicious flavors and creamy textures, but also to save you from a sick stomach. Make sure you store it correctly to try and preserve it for as long as possible and add a drop of milk if it dries out a bit when reheated.
As for your unopened boxed mac and cheese, make sure you store it properly and you can use this long after its best-by-date. So, whatever your method for making one of the best meals on the planet, try not to let it go to waste if you are controlled enough to even have leftovers in the first place!