Now that Thanksgiving is over, here’s what to do with all those leftovers

The heaps of turkey and mashed potatoes, although much smaller than before, have migrated from the table to the fridge. The pumpkin pie is a ruin of bits of crust and pieces of filling, and somehow, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and everyone starts to realize, hey, we’re still kind of hungry (all of that Black Friday shopping will do that).

Check out these helpful tips from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and regarding leftovers and food safety to ensure your post-Thanksgiving snacking doesn’t end badly.

  • If it was out for two hours the day before, toss it. Turkey, other meats, egg-based foods and other perishable items should be refrigerated before the two hour mark. Otherwise, it’s not worth the risk of foodborne illness (bacteria flourishes between 40 –140°F).
  • When microwaving food, make sure the dish is covered and rotating to ensure even heating.
  • Can’t stand cold turkey? Ensure when it’s reheated, the food item reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (again, this means busting out the meat thermometer). Sauces and soups should be brought to a boil.
  • Use leftovers within three to four days.
  • Leftovers can be safely frozen. Meat and poultry retain their quality for three to six months in the freezer. When thawing frozen leftovers, do so in the fridge. When reheating them, ensure the item reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (again, break out the thermometer).

For more information of safe handling of leftovers, check out additional tips from FSIS here.


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