Food Safety - How To Store And How Long To Keep Leftovers

leftover vegetables in storage containers
  • Make sure your freezer is set at 0°F and your refrigerator is set at 40°F or below.
     
  • After making a dish, divide out the food you want to store.

    • Cut smaller portions of the dish and place in air-tight containers.
       
    • Cut meat to pieces that can be frozen and reheated safely. Items such as bread can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn.
       
    • Divide food into portions you can realistically see you or your family consuming at one given time.
       
    • It’s also a good idea to label your frozen goods. Just write the name of the dish and the date on a piece of tape with a permanent marker. Then you always know what’s in there!
       
  • Properly portioning leftovers avoids unnecessary reheating and refrigerating of food; changes in temperature and the middle-ground between properly heated and properly chilled — between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C)— make food susceptible to spoiling and bacteria growth. Food should not be left out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours – less than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F.
     
  • Leftovers will keep up to four or five days in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer.
     
  • Reheat leftovers thoroughly to a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
     
  • If you are in doubt about the safety of the food you are about to eat, it is best to throw it away.

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