How to Store Holiday Leftovers
Let’s face it…the beautiful bounty of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners quickly becomes a fridge full of leftovers. What follows? A monotonous 7-day lunch routine of turkey or ham sandwiches. But, this year, a little planning can help you rise above the post-holiday food blues. All it takes is the right storage containers, a few fresh, creative recipe ideas and some strategy to keep from getting overwhelmed by leftovers. So, here’s how to store holiday leftovers the right way, and turn them into delicious, exciting recipes ever after.
GIVE IT AWAY
After you’ve filled their bellies, send friends and family home with leftovers to keep your inventory manageable rather than overwhelming. Before the big gathering pick up a few sets of Snapware® Total Solution™ Food Storage containers. You can either make the containers a gift for your guest (plus the delicious food to boot!), or write your name on the exterior with a permanent marker (for them to return when empty). Whichever you choose, your guests will have a spill-free way to transport their goodies home.
After the festivities are over, evaluate what leftovers you have and how you’d like to use them. Love turkey sandwiches with cranberries and stuffing, but not sure what to do with the rest? Hop online to find great recipes to spice up holiday leftovers. Here are three we can’t wait to try:
- Make a breakfast hash with turkey or ham and eggs.
- Turkey and stuffing pasty is a delight for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Sweet potato cinnamon rolls are a surprise wow your family will love!
STORING IT SAFELY
As you plan how you’ll use the leftovers, the basic food safety rules will keep your stomach happy and healthy:
- Some foods, like mashed potatoes or fruit salad, don’t freeze well. These should be kept in the refrigerator or given away.
- Other foods—turkey, stuffing and gravy—freeze exceptionally well and can be kept for months.
- If you’re going to refrigerate your cooked turkey and stuffing, it needs to be stored in a shallow container within 2 hours after cooking, and used within 3 to 4 days.
- Reheat leftovers to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to double-check the temperature before serving.
ACTION PLAN FOR FOOD STORAGE
After you’ve planned out the leftover use, you’ll have a good idea of what you want to use within a few days and what you want to freeze until later. Follow these helpful tips when refrigerating or freezing food:
- Plastic or glass containers can both be used, but plastic containers are lighter and preferred for transporting food.
- Learn to eyeball what size container you’ll need. For example, a portion the size of an average person’s fist will generally fit a 1-cup container. Two fists, 2 cups…and so on.
- Store leftovers in individual portions. Smaller portions freeze and thaw more easily and safely. This way, you can easily repurpose leftovers for several meals, including lunch.
- Always label containers with the date the food was cooked and stored.
- Know safe food-storage rules
- Frozen food should always be thawed in the refrigerator—not on the kitchen counter—and heated according to temperature guidelines.