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How do I safely store food leftovers?

Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics

When storing warm leftovers, be sure to place them in a shallow container with the lid slightly ajar. Place in the refrigerator and once it cools some, cover completely. If it is a cold item, just put in a container with a cover and place in refrigerator. Limit the time that you are leaving food sitting out to one hour. Do not place raw, uncooked meats such as chicken, beef etc., on top of leftovers, especially if they are not going to be cooked. As a general rule, do not keep items for more than three-four days, and if not sure how long it's been stored, throw it out. Keep refrigerator temperatures below 40 degrees and freezer temperature at 0 degrees. 

To safely store and extend shelf life of leftover dishes, consider the following guide:
  • Wash hands before handling foods.
  • Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate.
  • Refrigerate foods promptly below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • One important rule: When in doubt, throw it out. safely store food leftovers, keeping food leftovers, food leftovers and safety, food safety and storage, handling food safely   
Cindy Gay
Nutrition & Dietetics

Divide into small pieces and place into shallow pans. Cut roast and potatoes in half. Place soup, stews or similar items into shallow containers less than 2 inches deep.  Place in the coolest part of the refrigerator (usually the bottom shelf), use within 4 days and only reheat once. When reheated, heat quickly to 165 degrees.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.