Top 10 Mistakes People Make With Their Leftovers
Top 10 Tips for Handling Leftovers
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These storage and safety tips can put your mind at ease about how and when to enjoy leftovers.
If you're wondering whether to eat or to toss what's left of last week's dinner, check out this list of answers to 10 frequently asked questions about leftovers from the South Beach Diet.
1. How long before I need to refrigerate my leftovers?
Within two hours of purchase or preparation. Be extra careful about getting meat and dairy products into the fridge promptly, and make sure they are properly sealed.
2. How long can I keep refrigerated leftovers?
About three to five days.
3. How do I store leftovers?
Divide large amounts of leftovers between several clean, shallow storage containers (1-2 inches deep). Make sure storage lids seal tightly, or cover the container with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Place storage containers at least 2 inches apart in the refrigerator — this allows cold air to circulate.
4. How long can I keep cooked lean meat and meat dishes?
Three to four days in the refrigerator and two to three months in the freezer. Raw beef can be stored for six months to a year in a freezer set below 0°F.
5. How long can I keep cooked lean poultry and poultry dishes?
Three to four days in the refrigerator and four to six months in the freezer set below 0°F. Raw poultry can be stored for nine months to a year in a freezer set below 0°F.
6. At what temperature should I keep my refrigerator?
7. What's the best way to keep track of how long my leftovers have been in the fridge?
Label and date every container, and keep the older containers toward the front of the fridge.
8. What if I'm unsure how long my leftovers will keep?
Check them daily for signs of spoilage, such as an odd odor or color, and be on the lookout for any indication of mold.
9. Can I taste leftovers to see if they are still fresh?
If in doubt, throw it out. Never taste a questionable leftover.
10. What if my refrigerator is too full for everything?
Clean it out, getting rid of old leftover containers or questionable foods. Cold air needs to circulate to keep foods fresh.
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