How do I store leftovers safely?
Part of our Best Guides for Beginning Cooks. Click to see more answers to your questions.
To store leftovers safely in the refrigerator, let the food cool to room temperature before storing to help prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Divide large amounts of food into smaller, shallow containers. This will help the food cool faster and reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
Cover the food with a lid or wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep it fresh and prevent contamination. Re-wrap is important!
Store the leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Most perishable foods should be stored at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Use leftovers within 3-4 days. If you’re not sure whether leftovers are still good, it’s best to throw them out to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
If you have leftovers that you won’t be able to eat within 3-4 days, consider freezing them for later use.
Do not refreeze uncooked meat or poultry that has been thawed. If thawed meat or poultry is refrozen, bacteria can cause food poisoning.
Uncooked frozen meat or poultry should be thawed in the refrigerator and cooked within a few days. If you are unable to use the thawed meat or poultry within a few days, you can cook it and then freeze it for later use. Cooked meat and poultry can be safely refrozen.
If you are in doubt about the safety of any food, it is always better to err on the side of caution and throw it out.