You know what? Leftovers rock. If you’ve got a busy week, double one or two of the recipes in your meal plan. Plan “Leftover Night” for the night of the week that is the most hectic. And while you’re at it, have a glass of wine too.
It’s ok to incorporate one night of leftovers into your meal planning, just make sure to follow the proper storage procedures to keep the “leftover night” dinner delicious and safe.
4 Tips for Storing Leftovers
- Store at the Proper Temperature
Make sure you keep things at a cool or cold temperature when you aren’t eating them. Hopefully your turkey, gravy, leftover stuffing (if there was any!) got put back in the fridge shortly after you finished your meal. Keeping your leftovers cool will slow down spoilage. In general, you should try to eat your leftovers in four days or less, or freeze them.
- Make Sure Food is Stored in Air Tight Containers
Protect the food from exposure to lots of air which will dry it out. That means keeping things in the smallest container that will hold it. Investing in small containers that can be used to store and reheat leftovers are a long-term money saver.
- Keep Meat on the Bone
People often slice the entire cut of meat when it is served or before storing it, but this will cause it to dry out faster. We recommend taking the meat off the bone in the largest possible pieces and then heating up only what you need, and/or slicing when you need them.
- Combine It
Combine! Hey, admit it, you’re going to eat that little bit of leftover potatoes and gravy together anyway, right? So go ahead and store them together rather than in separate containers. Just remember to eat them sooner rather than later.
Guidelines for Leftover Safety
- Any dishes that have been left out over 2 hours shouldn’t be saved. (1 hour if the temperature was above 90 °F)
- We recommend heating all leftovers to 165 degrees and always throwing them out if they haven’t been eaten with 3 days.
Go ahead and embrace leftover night and savor the extra time you’ve given yourself this week.
- If you are looking for information about meal planning, check out our complete meal planner’s guide.
- If you are curious about The Dinner Daily, what we do, and how we help thousands of families (including those with picky eaters) solve dinner every night, check out our How it Works page.