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Leftovers in the fridge

Leftovers Going Bad? Use These Food Safety Preparation Tips

Have you ever stared into your refrigerator at to-go boxes and containers of leftovers wondering…is it still good? Maybe you tried the sniff test or asked your family “Does this look ok?”

Knowing how long food is safe to consume after it is prepared is essential to preventing food-borne illness. Utilizing proper cooking and holding practices is also important. Let’s do a quick review to ensure you can enjoy food without worry.

Food Preparation Tips for Leftovers

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food.
  • Invest in a meat thermometer to ensure proper cooking, don’t guess:
    • Poultry: 165 degrees
    • Beef, pork, veal and lamb: 145 degrees or 160 degrees for ground
  • Serve cooked meat on a clean dish, not the same dish that carried raw meat.
  • Switch out utensils when cooking with raw meat or eggs.
  • Have designated cutting boards to minimize cross contamination of raw meats with fresh foods.
  • Properly wash counters and sinks.
  • Avoiding leaving prepared foods at room temperature over 2 hours – be especially careful in warm weather!

How Long are Leftovers Good For in the Refrigerator?

  • Cooked meat: good for 3-4 days
  • Eggs in an omelet or quiche: good for 3-4 days
  • Hard boiled eggs: 1 week
  • Soups: good for 3-4 days, or frozen up to 3 months

How to Keep Track of Leftovers

  • Transfer leftovers from plastic containers into clear glass dishes for easy viewing.
  • Label leftovers with the date they are best by.
  • Check out containers with chalk paint labels for easy identification.
  • Make a plan to utilize or freeze leftovers to minimize food waste.

Making food safety a priority is so important for our health, so practice these skills whenever you can!

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. She is the diabetes education program coordinator at CHI Health and sees patients at the Millard Clinic. She works with patients to identify root causes to health conditions and make changes to improve overall health. Ellen’s passion is to help others develop lifestyle habits that allow them to feel their best.

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