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Food Safety Guidelines for Leftovers

By Lana Bandoim

After dinner, there is a full plate of meatballs left on the table. The kids barely touched the steamed vegetables, and no one tried the grilled sweet potatoes. It would be wasteful to throw this food away. Leftovers can turn into other meals. Consider these food safety guidelines for leftovers and try them at home.

Pay Attention to Time  

Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. However, it is important to let the food cool first. Most leftovers should be consumed within two days of being refrigerated because the risk of food poisoning increases after each day. Paying attention to the time can help avoid moldy messes or other problems that make cleaning the fridge a nightmare. In addition, consider labeling all the leftover containers with the date, so it is easy to keep track of them.

Use Containers for Leftovers

Some leftovers, such as soups or casseroles, can be stored in plastic containers in the fridge. Other items may need to be wrapped in foil or plastic bags. Airtight packaging is better because it keeps moisture in and prevents odors from spreading. Clear plastic containers or plastic bags also make it easy to see what is inside.

Unfortunately, some items such as tomato sauces can stain plastic containers and ruin them. Consider using a glass container for these types of leftovers.

Follow These Fridge Tips

The fridge door is not the best place to store items that spoil quickly. The temperature can vary too much in the fridge door. Instead, put leftovers on the shelves. Make sure to create space between containers and other items, so air can circulate inside the refrigerator.

Use the Freezer

Many leftovers can be frozen, but the containers should never be full because they can expand in the freezer. Let the leftovers thaw before heating them. From bread to milk, you can freeze multiple products at the same time.   

Reheat Leftovers

When reheating leftovers, make sure the temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Even soups and sauces should boil. If you are using a microwave to reheat, check for cold spots. Use a food thermometer to make sure the entire dish is heated. Avoid using slow cookers to reheat leftovers because they may not reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stop throwing away good food and store the leftovers safely in the refrigerator or freezer. Try these tips the next time you cook too much for dinner.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Santee, Calif.

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