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Holiday Leftovers Guide: Food Safety

Ham, potatoes and side dishes in a buffet-style service.

Another holiday has come and gone, and once again, you’re left with a mountain of leftovers. But this year, you’re going to do something different. Rather than eat the same leftovers for the next couple days, you’re going to transform them into quick, delicious meals that won’t bust your budget! In this three-part series, we’ll talk about how to safely store your leftovers and help you use every part of your holiday meal.

First, let’s talk food safety. Always cook your food to a safe temperature and store your leftovers properly so nobody gets sick.

Keep Track of Time

When you serve your holiday meal, note when you set out the perishable dishes. It’s common to leave hot and cold foods on the counter all day as your friends and family graze to fill and refill their plates. However, you should properly package and refrigerate all perishable foods within two hours of your meal to keep your food safe and healthy.

Store Safely

Choose small, shallow containers to package your leftovers so food will cool quickly. Leftovers can be safely stored in the fridge for three to four days. Many dishes can also be frozen if you don’t plan to eat them right away, but avoid freezing hard boiled or deviled eggs, fully cooked pastas, and salad greens. For more information on storing food safely, visit the CDC’s website.

Check back in with us later this month to spice up your main dish leftovers from your last holiday meal. Just because you have a lot of turkey left over doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing every day for the next week!

Melissa Schumacher MS, RDN, LDN
November 7, 2022
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