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 is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.