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Food safety – How to Store and Use Leftovers

Eating leftovers is a great way to save money and time spent cooking a new meal. It is important to store and use leftovers safely, however. By following these tips, you can make your original meal stretch into two.

Don’t Save Food That Has Been Sitting Out More Than Two Hours

Food safety guidelines dictate that food should never be left out more than two hours. If your food has been out longer, you must throw away all extras. Otherwise, you risk a high threat of food-borne illness.

Don’t Reheat More Than Once

If you kept your leftovers and reheated them, and then still had more leftovers from the second meal… simply throw them away. You might wish to keep them and get more use from the meal, but you risk your health by doing so. If you can’t use all the leftovers, simply take out as much as you need, warm it up, and leave the rest in the fridge for another meal in order not to waste any.

Reheat to the Proper Temperature

When reheating food, you need to reheat it to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Leftover liquid foods such as soup, broths and sauces should be boiled before being eaten again. Keeping liquid at 150 degrees or higher for more than a single minute kills any active bacteria, and boiling it for 10 minutes inactivates the botulism toxin.

Rules on Refreezing

When using the freezer to store foods, make sure that the food has not been out of the freezer for more than two days, and that it has not been thawed outside of the fridge. Refreezing should only be done once, and raw food that is now cooked can be safely frozen once as well. By following these rules, you can be aware as to what food is safe to refreeze.

Don’t Store Leftovers More Than Three Days

At times it’s boring to eat leftovers two nights in a row, and they end up staying in the fridge longer. When this happens, don’t keep them any longer than three days. When three days has passed, be sure to get rid of them completely. If you find it difficult to eat the leftovers in due time, simply meal plan the leftovers into your schedule so that you don’t forget about them.

Use Labels

It can be confusing when you have more than one set of leftovers. Almost anyone who eats leftovers has had moments when they didn’t know when original cooking date of the leftovers was. Because it is better to be safe than sorry, perfectly good food is often thrown away. To prevent this, use a label or erasable marker to write the date on the leftover container. This way, you will be assured that the food you are eating is safe.

Leftovers keep life simple and help make less waste. There is no reason to avoid leftovers; you simply need to ensure they are saved and reheated properly. By following these simple rules, you can have your leftovers and eat them too.